Last-second defensive effort lifts Cougars in CBI
Washington State wins opening game of CBI championship series
Washington State @ Pittsburgh, 4 p.m., HDNet
PULLMAN — The suit emphasized the difficulty of this task.
Brock Motum looked sharp Monday night. But it was because he was dressed sharply in a jacket, slacks and dress shoes, limping around on the sideline on a sprained right ankle that prevented Washington State's leading scorer from playing against Pittsburgh in the opening game of the College Basketball Invitational's best-of-three championship series.
"We knew going in that guys were going to have to be aggressive and step up in scoring," said senior forward Abe Lodwick. "And I think to a man, we did that."
They did. They really did. And so WSU will be the happier team when it shares a charter flight out of Lewiston, Idaho, with Pitt on Tuesday morning as the teams head back east for the series' second game after the Cougars took an improbable 67-66 victory at Beasley Coliseum before 4,226 spectators.
WSU (19-16) can clinch the CBI championship by winning Wednesday. A third game would be played Friday in Pittsburgh if necessary.
"I sound like a broken record," WSU coach Ken Bone said. "But I'm really proud of our guys that we are able to figure out ways to win recently."
Motum sprained his ankle early in WSU's semifinal victory over Oregon State. It's not likely he'll play Wednesday, either.
With Motum watching from the sideline, Lodwick scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the first half. Reggie Moore also had 10 in the first half, part of WSU's 63.2 percent shooting effort.
Yet the Cougars, who allowed Pitt to make 7 of 13 from three-point range, still trailed 38-35 at halftime. But their lax defense was about to change.
"I feel like we shifted a whole lot better than we did in the first half (after halftime)," Marcus Capers said.
They did. The Cougars built a 60-48 lead thanks to an 11-1 run midway through the second half, holding the Panthers without a field goal for nearly eight minutes.
But Pitt (20-17) wasn't done. The Panthers closed to 62-59 after a Lamar Patterson dunk with 2:53 to play.
With the Cougs up just one point with four seconds left, Lodwick missed the front end of a one-and-one. Pitt rebounded and called time out.
The inbounds pass was caught by Tray Woodall, who drove to the rim and was rejected by D.J. Shelton. The crowd roared, but 0.8 seconds still remained, giving Pitt enough time to catch and shoot.
That's what Patterson did, launching a long jumper from the corner that caught iron at the buzzer.