The Washington State University Cougar men's hoop team endured harrowing foul trouble in the second half, but hit some big shots down the stretch and Wazzu defeated the rival Washington Huskies, 87-80 in the first round of the Apple Cup of men's hoop at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman. With the victory, Wazzu improves to 5-4 in conference play and 15-6 overall to enhance their chances for a potential NCAA tournament berth.
Wazzu scored the game's first points on an emphatic dunk from junior forward DeAngelo Casto and then jumped out to an early 11-5 lead after junior guard Faisal Aden hit a three-point shot. The Cougars held Washington at bay for another couple minutes until the Huskies finally tied the game at 17-apiece and then plodded ahead to a seven-point bulge at 35-28. Wazzu then returned the favor with a 9-2 run as sophomore Brock Motum tied the game at 37-all with a bucket and free throw. Another free throw from Casto gave Wazzu the lead which they held until halftime, taking a 45-43 lead into the locker room. Casto and junior guard Klay Thompson shared the scoring lead for the Cougars at the half, with each tallying 11 points and Aden right behind with 10 points.
Casto scored on a dunk to open the half then the Cougars got into foul trouble as, despite Washington guard Isaiah Thomas theatrical flops, the officials called five consecutive fouls on the Cougars - to none for Washington - in the first three minutes of the second half, including Casto's fourth and Thompson's third foul. Both Casto and Thompson were sent to the bench with 17:56 remaining and a fired-up Wazzu responded to the lopsided officiating with an 8-1 run culminating with a fast break lob from Aden to sophomore point guard Reggie Moore resulted in a Moore dunk that gave Wazzu their largest lead of the game at 55-44. Wazzu kept Washington scoreless from the field for the first five and a half minutes of the half as they kept the Huskies at bay with a single digit lead for much of the half. The Huskies were never able to close the gap to less than four points as Thompson and freshman Patrick Simon hit big three-balls for the Cougars down the stretch to allow Wazzu to maintain their margin at a comfortable level.
Washington made their final run at the Cougars with under five minutes to play, cutting the lead to six points at 75-69 when Casto left the game after picking up his fifth foul on yet another questionable call from the Pac-10 officiating crew. Thompson scored five straight to give Wazzu an 80-69 advantage. Washington cut it back to six but Aden hit a trey to give Wazzu an 83-74 lead and, with 2:06 remaining in the game and four fouls on his stat sheet, Motum took a charge from Thomas that essentially sealed the deal. Thompson finished off the Huskies with four consecutive free throws.
Thompson led a quartet of Cougars in scoring with a game-high 25 points followed by Moore with 18 points, Aden with 15 points and Casto with 11 points and eight rebounds [to also lead the Cougars].
- Wazzu head coach Ken Bone recorded his first career victory over the Huskies - he is now 1-5 against Washington, including 1-3 as the Cougar head coach.
Washington State University continues their Pac-10 season with a game against Oregon at 6PM on Thursday, February 3, in Eugene.
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