Two halves could hardly have been more different. But when fit together into 40 minutes in a roaring and sold-out Beasley Coliseum, the Washington Huskies finally outlasted rival Washington State, 59-52, to sweep the series for the second straight season.
“Give Washington State a lot of credit,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They knuckled down and fought back and got after us. The crowd was great tonight – it kind of helped them along. But give our guys a lot of credit, too. We were down one, and our guys just put the chinstraps on.”
For 20 minutes it seemed there would be no struggle at all as the Huskies dominated early, taking a 35-21 halftime lead.
However, the Cougars opened the second half with a 21-6 run and nosed in front briefly before UW shook off the roaring crown and regained control.
“Our guys really did work as hard as they could,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “I know we as a staff are really proud of the effort they gave.”
The Cougars’ first-half troubles were exemplified by leading scorer Klay Thompson, who was shut out and missed his first eight shots. However, his first basket came about 13 minutes from the end, and it pulled the Cougars even, 39-39.
“We came out with a purpose in the second half after starting off stagnant,” Thompson said. “We just didn't start the game with a lot of focus."
WSU took its first lead on a James Watson free throw with about 11 minutes left, and its final lead on a DeAngelo Casto jumper about four minutes later.
Then a Scott Suggs 3-pointer put the Huskies back in front, Isaiah Thomas hit another trey and some key free throws. Suddenly, Washington was back in front – not comfortably, but for good.
“We had guys that just didn’t want to give it away,” Romar said. “Down the stretch we began to get more loose balls. We began to limit them to one shot. … I just think we put our chinstraps on and finished the task.”
Washington (19-9 overall, 9-7 Pacific-10 Conference) won with some key shooting down the stretch by Thomas, who led all scorers with 22 points.
“I’m 4-0 as a Husky playing the Washington State Cougars,” Thomas said. “So, I’m happy about that.”
Matthew Bryan-Amaning ended with 17 points – 15 in the first half -- and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Washington State (16-12, 6-10) was led by DeAngelo Casto, who had 19.
Both teams' leading scorers had off nights. Washington’s Quincy Pondexter had seven points on 3-of-11 shooting, while Thompson ended with five points on 2-of-14 shooting.
Next, both teams conclude their regular seasons this week with trips to the Oregon schools. WSU visits Oregon State on Thursday, while Washington plays its final visit to Oregon’s Mac Court.Final:
WSU actually nosed in front briefly, but UW answered and rolled to a 59-52 win before a sellout crowd at Beasley Coliseum.
I'll be back with stats, notes, quotes and comments.
11:52/2nd: WSU pulled even, 41-41 with a 20-6 run to start the second half. Klay Thompson got the Cougs even with his first basket after missing his first eight shots.
15:54/2nd: Washington State scored the first eight points of the second half until a Venoy Overton floaters through the paint got UW on the board. Huskies lead now, 37-29.
Gaddy picked up his fourth foul just seconds into the half.
Halftime: UW is up, 35-21, and has led the whole way. Fifteen points have come from MBA on 7-of-9 shooting. None from Klay Thompson, on 0-for-7 shooting. DeAngelo Casto is leading the Cougars with six points.
WSU hit only six of 33 shots (18.2 percent). UW hit 16-of-25 (64 percent). Looking at that, you might wonder how the lead is only 14 points.
Part of the answer is that UW committed 12 turnovers (WSU nine). And while Washington is out-rebounding the Cougs, 22-17, WSU has 12 offensive rebounds to UW's four.
Meanwhile, two UW starters -- MBA and Gaddy -- each have three fouls.
3:59/1st: UW up, 28-17. But Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who has 15 of those points, just picked up his third foul. Also on the bench with three is starting UW point guard Abdul Gaddy.
7:46/1st: UW up 25-13; 14 of those points coming from MBA.
11:06/1st: UW, 17-10. Ten points from Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
15:46/1st: UW jumps to quick 10-2 lead.
During first time out, new WSU athletic director Bill Moos addressed the crowd, stressing support for the Cougs.
Tipoff: Huskies going with usual starting lineup of Thomas, Gaddy, Pondexter, Holiday and Bryan-Amaning. Cougs are starting Casto, Thompson, Capers and Moore and lone senior Nikola Koprivica.
This is WSU's final home game of the season, and Koprivica was warmly honored before the game.
70 minutes till tip: Cal's win over Arizona State today assures at least a share of the title for the Golden Bears and also assured that UW will not be able to defend even a share of its regular-season Pac-10 title.
Here's the scoreboard across the league today.
75 minutes till tip: Cougs wearing home whites today. Huskies in purple, rather than those blacks that they unveiled so successfully in the earlier game against WSU in Seattle.
90 minutes till tip: They have allowed the students in, and they're warming up early by getting on Quincy Pondexter, the lone Husky our practicing right now. Each Q-Pon miss is drawing taunts. (Pondexter had 29 points and 12 rebounds in the first meeting, a 92-64 UW victory.)
Two hours till tip: Here's our preview story of tonight's Apple Cup of Hoops: UW at WSU, 7 p.m. on FSN and the usual radio outlets.
I just arrived at Beasley Coliseum, and there is a long line of students already lined up and ready to get in. The Cougs have drawn an average of just over 7,000 this season, but tonight's game is already sold out.