The Washington State University Cougar men's hoop team came out sluggish and Arizona State made them pay early as the previously hapless Sun Devils upset the Cougars, 71-69 in Tempe. With the loss, the Cougars drop to 7-8 in conference play and 17-10 overall and all but ended their chances at an NCAA tournament bid without winning the Pac-10 post-season tournament.
Pac-10 scoring leader Klay Thompson did not start as head men's hoop coach Ken Bone penalized the junior for being late to a team activity and the Cougars came out sluggish as only sophomore point guard Reggie Moore was able to provide any early offense - scoring eight of Wazzu's first 10 points of the game. But Arizona State - also missing starting guard Ty Abbott and another starter Rihards Kuksiks - proceeded to outhustle the Cougars on virtually every play.
ASU harassed the Cougars on defense to cause 12 turnovers in the half - four of the first six committed by junior forward DeAngelo Casto in the first seven minutes of play, causing Bone to bench Casto in favor of Will DiIorio [who had only played 38 total minutes during the season coming into this game]. It did not stem the ASU offensive tide however as the Sun Devils shot 52% from the field for the half including seven three-pointers, most of which were wide open and uncontested. Arizona State used their defensive energy and newfound offensive firepower to pull out to a 40-28 lead going into the locker room.
The Cougars were scoreless for the first 2:20 of the half as Arizona State opened up a 16-point lead. But Wazzu fought back as Thompson scored 16 of Wazzu's first 19 points of the half and brought the Cougars to within five at 53-48. After another three-ball from Thompson and free throws from Casto and sophomore Brock Motum, the Cougars trailed by only two, 56-54 with 7:41 remaining in the game. Wazzu finally took their first lead of game since leading 7-6 early on when junior Abe Lodwick nailed a trey from the corner to give Wazzu a 57-56 advantage.
Moore added a free throw to make it 58-56, ASU tied it and junior Marcus Capers added another free throw to give Wazzu a 59-58 lead. The Sun Devils reclaimed the lead at 61-59 but Casto converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 62-61 Wazzu lead with 4:15 left in the contest - but that was the last lead the Cougars would have. Thompson hit a trey with 36.5 seconds left to cut the ASU lead in half, to 68-65, but Wazzu was unable to regain the lead and Lodwick missed a game-winning trey at the buzzer as the Sun Devils held on for the victory.
Thompson led the Cougars in scoring with 28 points while Casto and Moore each had 12 points and Lodwick finished with 11 points.
- Junio guard Faisal Aden did not play and was sent home to Pullman to rehab his nagging knee injury.
Washington State University continues their Pac-10 season with a game against rival Washington at 7PM on Sunday, February 27, in Seattle.
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