Washington State (13-11, 5-7) played a home game on the hardwood of Friel Court the way a Pac-10 team is supposed to. Thursday night, the Cougs ran out to a 19-2 lead over the Oregon Ducks (6-18, 0-12), then coasted to victory 67-38.
Coach Tony Bennett's team came out ready to play.
Time and time again in the first half, WSU manned up on defense, forcing the Ducks to go deep into the shot clock before attempting a shot.
Defense was the key to this game.
Once the Cougs established their Bennett Ball defense, they shot the basketball with tremendous confidence.
For the first time in his college career, freshman Klay Thompson was able to play in front of his father, Mychal Thompson the former No. 1 player selected in the NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers.
Klay responded with a second 20 plus point game this season. He finished with a game-high 25 points that included a smooth stroking five of six from behind the arc.
The waning seconds of the first half epitomized the way this game went for Coach Ernie Kent and his Ducks.
Oregon closed the score to 29-15 in favor of WSU and had the ball with less than 30 seconds before intermission. A bucket would have given the Ducks something positive to take into the locker room.
It wasn't going to happen.
Washington State smothered Oregon with a tenacious defense that completely took them out of their offense. Just a blink before the horn sounded the end of the half, the Ducks were still trying to get a shot off.
It didn't happen.
Four minutes into the second half, senior Aron Baynes, playing in front of his parents who have traveled up from Australia to see his remaining games, made his third consecutive bucket in the paint. That put the Cougs up 37-15.
Four minutes into the second half marks the point where Washington State removed any heart the Ducks had left.
Midway through the second half, Oregon had more team fouls than team points.
How bad was it for Coach Kent's team?
Oregon's previous season low in scoring was 52 points against Arizona, a team not known for their defense.
Pick your own adjective to describe their 38 point performance.
The Ducks were held to an abysmal 21 percent shooting on 10-48 from the field.
Contrast that with WSU who shot 57 percent on 21-37.
If Washington State wants a shot at an invitation to postseason play, they need to finish their schedule strong. This win over Oregon is a step in the right direction.
For tonight, savor the victory.
Tomorrow, prepare for the next challenge. Oregon State will be coming to Pullman expecting to pick up a road win.
Coach Bennett continued doing what his team needs to be strong over these final games. His young guns, Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, played well again tonight. Mike Harthun played some quality minutes, as did Abe Lodwick and Marcus Capers.
As the young guns go, so goes Washington State over their final games of the regular season.
Oregon State- WSU in Pullman, WA
Saturday 4:00pm PST
Televised on FSN Northwest
Listen on the Cougar Radio Network