PULLMAN — Washington State and USC clanked shots off the baskets all afternoon Saturday, but Reggie Moore had better luck when he clanked one off the backboard.
With WSU clinging to a one-point lead, Moore banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with the shot clock winding down and just 51.4 seconds left in the game as the Cougars pulled away for a 51-47 victory.
The 6-foot-1 Moore said he could not see the basket when he launched the shot over 6-7 Leonard Washington.
“I’m glad it’s not like the old days when you just had that peach basket and no backboard,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “We needed that backboard to win the game.”
Moore led the Cougars (16-11, 6-9 Pac-10) with 12 points. Washington State shot just 38.6 percent from the field against the Pac-10’s top defensive team. The Cougars, ranked last in the conference coming into the day with 71.9 points allowed per game, held the Trojans to 38 percent shooting.
“They played well,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said of the Cougars. “They were hungry for a win.”
Dwight Lewis topped the Trojans (16-10, 8-6) with 14 points. Lewis played excellent defense against WSU leading scorer Klay Thompson, holding the sophomore guard to a career-low two points on 0-for-12 shooting.
O’Neill credited Lewis with “a great job” of defending Thompson.
“He played good defense,” Thompson agreed, “but at times I just didn’t hit the shots.
“I think it was maybe my legs. I didn’t get my legs under it (when shooting). I was too upright. I was a little fatigued.”
Thompson, who led the nation in scoring earlier this season, saw his season average drop to 20.1 points per game. Thompson had been considering making himself available for the NBA draft after the season, but he said those plans have been scrapped for at least one year.
“I’ll be here for sure (next season),” Thompson said. “I just don’t think I’m ready yet physically.
“Hopefully one day, whether that’s next year or (after) my senior year, I’ll have a chance to play at that level.”
Thompson wasn’t the only one missing plenty of shots Saturday. After 11 minutes, the score was 8-8, with the teams combining to miss 21 of 29 shots.
The 47 points allowed were nine less than WSU’s previous low this season. The Cougars lost 71-51 Thursday to UCLA while allowing the Bruins to shoot 65.9 percent.
“We got a little more pride,” said senior forward Nikola Koprivica, the only upperclassman on the Cougars. “We saw how it hurts to lose on the home court by 20.
“We got together and talked a lot. We just said, ‘We’ve got to come out firing.’ We played as a team, and we played great.”
Abe Lodwick and DeAngelo Casto both scored 11 points for Washington State. Nikola Vucevic had 12 points for USC, but Lewis was the only other Trojan starter with more than four points.
Lodwick, who started the first 20 games before giving way to Koprivica, returned to the starting lineup and scored one more point than he had in his 12 previous Pac-10 games (he missed two games). Lodwick was averaging 0.8 points per game in league play.
The Trojans came into the game with a four-game winning streak, and they were just a half game behind first-place California. The Cougars had lost three in a row and were just a half game ahead of last-place Oregon.
“I think USC can play a little harder,” Bone said. “They might have had something taken out of them from the other night (Thursday’s win at Washington). Playing Washington is a drainer.”
“I feel they (the Trojans) didn’t show up because we imposed our will on them,” Lodwick said.