Wichita St. Embarrasses Wazzu in NIT Semifinals

There were always two Washington St. teams: the one that soundly beat Washington twice (and almost a third time) and the one that lost to Arizona St., a 12-19 (4-14 Pac-10) team, and got blown out by 26 points at Oregon (19-18, 7-11 Pac-10).

You just never knew which one was going to show up.

The team that took the floor at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night missed its first six shots and began the game shooting 2/13 from the field en route to a 75-44 beatdown. Reminiscent of the Oregon game, in which the Cougars shot 26 percent from the field and 16 percent from 3-point range, Washington St. shot 29 percent against Wichita St., including 0/10 from beyond the arc.

“It’s been a long time since Washington St. has not hit a 3-pointer in a game, and we depend on that 3-point shot quite a bit,” Cougar head coach Ken Bone said.

In turn, the frustrations from the poor offensive showing trickled into their defense. “I think the fact that they did a great job defensively and took us out of our offense, it kind of snowballed into our defense at times, and we had a hard time guarding,” Bone said.

The lack of defensive intensity allowed the Shockers to dominate the interior with numerous second-chance points. By the time the first half ended, Wichita St. had a 25-10 rebounding edge and held a 36-19 lead.

All-Pac-10 First-Team star Klay Thompson, the conference’s leading scorer at 22.0 points per game, never got into a rhythm after picking up three fouls midway through the first half. “It was terrible,” he said. “That’s really stupid play on my part and it’s tough ending the season that way.”

Bone never considered taking Thompson out after he picked up two fouls barely three minutes into the game. “We did not have much going on at the time and we needed his [Thompson's] presence on the court. He’s been in that situation before,” Bone said.

“He got that third foul and he just wasn’t able to be as aggressive. I just think it took a lot out of him, and when it takes a lot out of him, it takes a lot out of us. And that’s not his fault. We depend on Klay so much. I depend on him probably too much because he’s such a great player.”

Thompson had more fouls at the half (three) than points (two), and finished with six points on 1/10 shooting.

The Shockers had a perfect gameplan for shutting him down. “He [Thompson] can get out of control sometimes. We tried to step in and take the charge and beat him to the spot and play tough on him,” Wichita St. forward Gabe Blair said.

Ironically, the third foul that sent Thompson to the bench for the rest of the first half was from a charge.

For Thompson, who may have played his last collegiate game, it’s too early to discuss the possibility that he’ll leave for the NBA. “I think it’s just too early to tell,” he said. “Just trying to enjoy the time that I have with my teammates.”


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