Two days after becoming the victim of a controversial late game Pac-10 officiating decision that cost them a victory over Oregon, the Washington State University men's basketball team were on the verge of becoming the victim of another controversial officiating decision late in the game - but this time, the Pac-10 officiating crew successfully averted controversy and Wazzu survived Oregon State's upset bid and held off the Beavers when freshman guard Xavier Thames converted two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining in the game to claim the 65-60 victory over Oregon State at Beasley Coliseum. With the win, the Cougars improve to 11-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
Unlike in the Cougars' loss to Oregon, Wazzu got off to a quick start against the Beavers, taking an 8-4 lead on a pair of treys from freshman point guard Reggie Moore and sophomore shooting guard Klay Thompson followed by another bucket from Moore. But the Cougars were unable to hold that lead as Oregon State came back with a 10-3 scoring surge to grab a 14-11 advantage. The two teams stayed close for most of the remainder of the first half until Wazzu surged toward the end and claimed a five-point lead at 29-24, going into halftime. Moore led the Cougars in scoring in the first half with nine points.
The second half was a rollercoaster ride for Wazzu as they began the half with another 8-4 run to give them a nine-point lead which they extended to 10 points - their largest lead of the game - at 46-36 with 12:20 remaining in the game. But once again, the Beavers came back, tying the game at 56 apiece when freshman James Watson was called for a foul on an Oregon State player but was shoved afterward, resulting in a technical foul, Senior Nikola Koprivica converted one of two free throws on the technical, to give Wazzu a slim 57-56 advantage. The Beavers again tied the game at 58 but sophomore DeAngelo Casto broke the tie with a bucket and Oregon State would never recover. Thames hit another bucket to give Wazzu a four-point lead at 62-58 with 2:22 remaining. The Beavers scored to close the gap to two at 62-60, but Moore added a free throw with 13 seconds remaining and after a missed trey by the Beavers, Thames sealed the win with his free throws.
Fouls and missed free throws were the theme of the evening as Thompson spent much of the second half in foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul with 8:55 remaining in the game. Head coach Ken Bone sent Thompson to the bench for just over three minutes and watched as Oregon State closed to within one point. Thompson went back into the game at the 5:38 mark but picked up his fifth and final foul 49 seconds later, without scoring a point - and left the game with seven points. Meanwhile the Cougars shot a horrendous 55% [16-of-29] from the free throw line for the game with Moore gathering only two points in seven attempts at the charity stripe.
Despite the miscues, Moore finished with 19 points and sophomore Marcus Capers joined him as the only other Cougar player in double figures with 10 points.
Wazzu will continue Pac-10 conference play on Friday, January 8 when they will face Arizona at 5:30 PM in Tucson
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