STANFORD, Calif. -- Washington State knew it would be facing an uphill climb on Saturday before the Cougars even entered Maples Pavilion.
Getting off the team bus, coach Ken Bone informed the team that he had suspended starting point guard Reggie Moore indefinitely. It was punishment for the previous week’s arrest on marijuana-related charges -- disciplinary action taken in the midst of a road trip during which the Cougars desperately needed a win.
Shorthanded and stunned after trailing by nine at halftime, Washington State scratched and clawed its way to a 61-58 win and earned its first Pac-10 road win by defeating a Stanford team that was previously unbeaten at home this season.
The Cougars (13-5, 3-3 Pac-10) couldn’t afford another lost weekend after getting swept in Los Angeles last month to open conference play and then going down in overtime to Cal on Thursday. Multiple players said beating Stanford was a must, and the Cougars did it behind Klay Thompson's shooting, Faisal Aden's ability to generate offense whenever called upon, and Abe Lodwick's grittiness.
“We’re not based off of one player,” said Lodwick, who corralled a rebound off Josh Owens' potential game-tying free throw attempt and hit two free throws on the other end with 5.9 seconds left.
Jeremy Green's 3-point attempt at the buzzer rimmed out and Washington State celebrated its first win at Maples Pavilion since 2005, with Moore in street clothes and happy to body-bump his teammates in celebration.
Bone conceded that not having Moore available might have made it difficult for his team in the first half, after which the Cougars trailed 32-23 even with Aden, Moore’s replacement in the lineup, scoring 10 points before the break.
“He’s a prolific shooter, a very good scorer, but the team dynamics were not the same,” Bone said.
But after Bone implored his players to pass the ball to one another, they went on a 10-1 run to start the second half and Thompson finished with 21 points and eight rebounds with Aden pouring in 20. Aden, the shoot-first junior college transfer, has plenty of experience filling in for Moore, who missed the early part of the season with a wrist injury.
“I knew I was going to have touches, get more opportunities,” Aden said. “I just had to step up.”
As Lodwick noted, Washington State is not simply about Thompson anymore. Thompson is still Thompson, of course, going 9-of-20 from the field. It was his 3-point play with 3:53 to go that put the Cougars on top for good.
Stanford, a young team that starts two freshmen, was coming off an upset win against Washington but in the end couldn’t stop Wazzu’s star.
“Look at some of the shots that they made, that Klay made,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “He had a hand in his face. That’s why he’s a great player. He’s just that good.”
Washington State will need him to continue swishing jump shots. The Cougars finished last in the Pac-10 a season ago when Thompson lost his stroke, wasting what had been a solid nonconference start.
And they’ll need to continue weathering the storm, whether it was Moore missing the first five games with a wrist injury, DeAngelo Casto out of the starting lineup against Cal after being late for the team bus, or Moore missing more time next week if he’s not reinstated.
Mostly it’s been road struggles that have dogged Washington State, but now it’s back to .500 in the league standings, hoping to carry on the momentum and have smoother bus rides in the future.
“It was a must-win for us,” Thompson said. “We just have to stay aggressive. We have to play like that every time we play on the road.”