The Washington State men's basketball is now one of eight teams left standing in the NIT Tournament after a 74-64 win over Oklahoma State, Monday. The Cougars came out strong to open the game but the Cowboys surged back to take the lead midway through the first half. The Cougars responded well in front of their home crowd and led by at least six points throughout the entire second half.
Player of the Game: Klay Thompson. At this point in the season, WSU fans have become accustomed to watching Thompson come up big for the Cougars, so much that tonight's 21 points and six rebounds seemed average. Statistically speaking, the performance was average, as Thompson was 1.4 points shy of his scoring average and 0.6 rebounds above average. Though it wasn't his best shooting night, Thompson played a smart game by committing only one turnover and staying out of foul trouble.
Play of the Game: Capers' put-back. Klay had an open 3-point jumper from the right wing. While the ball was on its way to the rim, so was Capers. The junior guard came crashing into the lane from the opposite side of the floor. After he weaved through traffic around the rim, Capers took an elevator ride to the penthouse where he met and threw down the one-handed put-back.
Turning Point of the Game: Willing and Abel. In the opening minutes of the second half, Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page buried a 3-pointer to cut the Cougar lead to six. The sudden surge of momentum was stopped almost immediately, as Abe Lodwick hit consecutive 3-pointers to extend the WSU lead to 12. The shots provided fuel to the home crowd's fire and gave the Cougars a little more breathing room during the rest of the half.
Stat of the Game: Cleaning the glass. Entering the game, the Cougars had a rebound margin of -1.4 while the Cowboys held a 2.1 rebound margin over their opponents. Those tables turned as WSU finished with 37 rebounds compared to the OSU's 33. The stat had been a decent predictor of the team's success over the course of the season as the Cougars are now 10-3 when they outrebound their opponents.
WSU advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT Tournament where it will host the Northwestern Wildcats, Wednesday March 23, at 8 p.m. The winner will earn the right to travel to Madison Square Garden, with hopes of winning two more games and the NIT Championship.
Until Next Time...Go Cougs!