Casper Ware matched Klay Thompson stride-for-stride on Wednesday night, but the Washington State Cougars were too much for Long Beach State in the opening round of the 2011 NIT. Ware and Thompson each scored a game-high 25 points, but the 49ers were unable to overcome a slow-start as the Cougars survived and advanced with an 85-74 win.
Washington State took control early, jumping out to a 36-18 halftime lead. Long Beach State was never able to find a rhythm on offense in the first half as the Cougars settled in and pulled away. But in the second half, Washington State’s defense went missing, allowing Long Beach State to narrow the deficit to single digits, thanks in large part to miscues on both ends from the Cougs. Down the stretch, Thompson and the Cougars were too much as they pulled away to secure a berth in the second round.
Thompson had another one of his all-around games, finishing with 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists. DeAngelo Casto added 14 points and Faisal Aden handled the bulk of the bench-scoring load with 19 points. Reggie Moore had eight points including a tear-drop three as the shot clock expired late in the second half to seal the game.
The Cougars will host Oklahoma State on Monday evening in the second round of the NIT. Check back with our 2011 NIT StoryStream for more on the tournament. For more on the game, head on over to SB Nation’s CougCenter.
Here's the Cougars' side of the bracket.
Upper right bracket:
No. 1 Boston College Eagles def. 8 McNeese St. Cowboys, 82-64
No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats def. No. 5 Milwaukee Panthers, 70-61
No. 3 Oklahoma St. Cowboys def. No. 6 Harvard Crimson, 71-54
No. 2 Washington St. Cougars def. No. 7 Long Beach St. 49ers, 85-74