Almost an encore
PULLMAN, Jan 06, 2013 (Lewiston Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The stage was set for Washington State, again.
There was a monumental rally, an unsung hero having a career night and a hated cross-state rival seemingly imploding as time ticked away.
The stars were aligning for a second improbable Apple Cup comeback in three months.
However, unlike their brethren on the gridiron, the WSU men's basketball team couldn't close the deal as a DaVonte Lacy 3-pointer came up short in the waning seconds, ultimately handing Washington a 68-63 Pac-12 conference victory in front of 7,711 fans at Beasley Coliseum on Saturday.
"Our guys worked hard to come back and I'm proud of the fact that they did," WSU coach Ken Bone said. "They scrapped and they battled and did everything they could. And then down the stretch, maybe they put out too much energy and were not able to execute some things in the last few minutes."
The comeback Bone alluded to came after the Cougars dug themselves a 17-point hole after missing 13 of their first 15 shots over the course of the opening 10 minutes.
Staring at a 21-4 deficit, WSU eventually shook off its toxic shooting touch and chipped away, cutting UW's once-hefty advantage to only seven at the break.
"We're resilient," Washington State senior forward Brock Motum said. "We knew it was going to be a close game. We can compete with anyone on our home court -- I'll say that anytime we play someone tough, or play anyone for that matter."
The Huskies' margin stayed mostly the same, and was even expanded to eight on an Andrew Andrews jumper with 10:53 left.
Not content to allow UW to walk out of Pullman with an easy win, WSU stubbornly turned on the thrusters and brought the game to a 48-48 deadlock on the strength of a 12-4 run that featured a missed alley-oop by Washington's C.J. Wilcox and two smooth baseline buckets from Motum.
Seeking their first lead of the game, the Cougs got it when Motum drilled a trey to give WSU a 51-50 advantage, sending the much of the crimson-and-gray-clad crowd into a frenzy that would last for much of the final seven minutes.
Considering that the Huskies smothered WSU's leading scorer for much of the game, the timely 3-pointer provided Motum, as well as the Cougs, a much-needed boost.
"(Washington) did a good job of taking that high-post pass away, no doubt about it," Bone said. "We have counters for that, but you definitely didn't see them tonight."
Motum finished with 15 points, but like most of his teammates, struggled mightily from the field for long stretches.
"I missed a couple open shots early and I think that would have changed the whole game, or the way they guarded me at least," Motum said. "If you take away one thing, you can exploit the other. We'll try to do that in games ahead."
Overall, Washington State (9-5 overall, 0-1 Pac-12) made only 21 of 57 attempts -- including an ugly 5-for-20 showing from long range.
Washington, on the other hand, went 26-for-48 and made five of its 12 shots from distance.
UW (9-5, 1-0) took back the lead on an Andrews dunk, but WSU punched back with a Will DiIorio triple and a Lacy transition layup that put the Cougs up by four with a little under six minutes remaining.
A putback by UW big man Aziz N'Diaye and a dunk from Desmond Simmons knotted the game for a second time before DiIorio came up with his third 3-pointer of the game, giving WSU a short-lived 59-56 lead.
DiIorio, a junior guard who originally came to the program as a walk-on, notched a career-high nine points and tied a career-best with 25 minutes played.
A quartet of jumpers -- three of which came off the hand of UW's Scott Suggs -- nullified a pair of free throws from Motum and had UW nursing a three-point lead with 1:02 on the clock.
With about 10 seconds left, a play was run for Lacy, who came up short on a shot that would have tied the game.
"(Lacy) had a decent look and he's very good at shooting that and I like the fact that he was confident enough to step up and shoot it, but unfortunately, it didn't go in," Bone said.
On the night, Lacy made three of his 11 attempts for 10 points. He was 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Seemingly down for the count, the Cougars were inexplicably given a final chance when Washington guard Abdul Gaddy missed the front end of a one-and-one and the officials grabbed hold of the ball, acting as if UW were in the double bonus.
"That was an odd deal," Bone said. "It was a strange situation because everyone just stopped. You would think our guys would know because they were fouling to get into that situation.
"I'm glad (Gaddy) missed it and I'm glad we got the ball, but we didn't hit the shot."
The blooper with eight ticks remaining handed the Cougars one last possession, which was cut short when Gaddy made a heady play in fouling WSU guard Mike Ladd before he could make it to the arc.
Ladd missed his first attempt of the one-and-one. The rebound was snatched by Andrews, who was quickly fouled. Needing to make just one to effectively ice the game, the redshirt freshman guard calmly canned both of his free throws, creating what would be the final margin.
Ladd tallied a team-high 16 points for the Cougs.
Wilcox paced UW with 18 while N'Diaye added 14 and Suggs chipped in with 11.
N'Diaye, who stands at a bulky 7 feet, also hauled in 10 boards to complete his double-double.
"They all hurt. If you lose, they hurt," Bone said of the loss. "We got to turn the page and get onto the next game.
"Obviously when you play your rival, there's that much more incentive to win, but it's not like this game was a (huge) deal and the next games are not as important."
Simmons 1-3 2-2 4, N'Diaye 7-9 0-1 14, Gaddy 3-7 2-3 9, Suggs 5-9 0-0 11, Wilcox 6-14 3-4 18, Andrews 2-3 4-6 8, Kemp, Jr. 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 26-48 11-16 68.
WASHINGTON ST. (9-5)
Motum 6-13 2-3 15, Shelton 1-5 0-0 2, Ladd 4-12 7-10 16, Lacy 3-11 4-4 10, Woolridge 1-7 1-2 3, DiIorio 3-6 0-0 9, Longrus 0-0 0-0 0, Kernich-Drew 3-3 2-2 8. Totals 21-57 16-21 63.
Halftime-Washington 34-27. 3-Point Goals-Washington 5-12 (Wilcox 3-7, Gaddy 1-1, Suggs 1-3, Andrews 0-1), Washington St. 5-20 (DiIorio 3-4, Ladd 1-4, Motum 1-5, Woolridge 0-1, Lacy 0-6). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Washington 32 (N'Diaye 10), Washington St. 31 (Shelton 8). Assists-Washington 13 (Gaddy 5), Washington St. 8 (Ladd 3). Total Fouls-Washington 18, Washington St. 15. Technical-Washington St. Bench. A-7,711.
Warzocha may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2260. Follow him on Twitter @lmtribTroyW.
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