BY Todd Dybas 11:31PM 01/30/2011

Pounded on the Palouse

18th-ranked Huskies hoopsters leave Pullman softened up

Washington State's DeAngelo Casto is fouled by Washington's Matthew Bryan-Amaning Sunday night in Pullman. / Patrick Riley, UW Daily

PULLMAN — A long line filled with animosity snaked around Beasley Performing Arts Center Sunday night, hours before tip-off between Washington and Washington State.

Many of the student ticket-holders had tasteless signs in tow that didn’t make it into the arena or, once raised indoors, were snatched by ushers. The bitterness was no surprise considering the animosity between the cross-state rivals. Trouble was, there was only one participant much of the evening.

Washington State’s 87-80 win over Washington, in front of 10,579 frothing onlookers, came as a result of repeated blows to the Huskies’ heart that went unreturned.

The Cougars were slapping, clawing and menacing in their 2-3 zone. The Huskies turned soft. Washington was meek, simply not tough enough against its rival on the road.

“We most definitely weren’t,” senior Justin Holiday said. “Even though we won on the glass, there were certain situations where we had the ball in our hands and getting it knocked away, that happened plenty of times.

Washington point guard Isaiah Thomas faced multiple defenders Sunday night in Pullman. / Luke Springer, UW Daily

“Making soft passes, not being strong going to the basket and fading away. We could have been way more stronger.

“They came out aggressive. We should have matched that or been above it.”

The approach could not have been a shock to Washington. There was plenty for the Cougars to chew on all week.

Not the meaningless banter from earlier press conferences, but a 4-4 record in conference play. Washington State’s level of desperation was on a helium ride with or without Washington in town. That it was the conference-leading Huskies on a Sunday night? That provided extra fervor.

Early Washington State dunks and wayward Washington passes proved that. The Huskies were slow moving the ball, both in intent and pace. The final numbers showed Washington’s incompetence.

Just 12 assists were countered by a season-high 24 Washington turnovers. Isaiah Thomas fell back from his recent play in the stratosphere and produced more turnovers (7) than assists (5). He finished with a team-leading 19 points, but the Huskies’ shooters betrayed him. Much of his own decision-making was little better.

The Huskies jacked 31 3-pointers, the majority of which were labeled acceptable by coach Lorenzo Romar. They made just 11.

The second-half clanging challenged Thomas’ faith in his wings. He decided to force his way to the basket, often turning down the former marksmen aside him. After starting 0-for-9, Thomas finished 3-for-4 and bulled his way to the foul line.

It was irrelevant.

Washington State, even with star Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto in foul trouble, stuck out its palm to Washington’s face, able to stifle any Huskies resurrection.

Thank Faisal Aden (15 points), who abused Washington freshman Terrence Ross when the youngster opposed him.

Thank Reggie Moore (18 points), who has spent most of the year lost.

Thank Washington’s preference to jack instead of dump to Matthew Bryan-Amaning.

The in-and-out, multi-faceted attack under Thomas’ guidance the past three games shrunk thanks to over-reliance from 3.

Coming in, the Huskies had four losses. An argument could be made Washington should have won each.

Not Sunday. The Huskies were beaten.

Thomas lingered on the floor after the horn. He watched Washington State fans inexplicably storm the court to over-do a once-rare celebration. He took it in. Then left irritated.

“For them to storm the floor, though, I’ll remember that when they come over (to Seattle),” Thomas said.

As he should. Yet in front of that memory should be visions of what went wrong Sunday. There’s plenty from which to choose.


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