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Final Score: Washington St. 74 Oklahoma St. 64

Washington St. (21-12), the third Pac-10 team besides Arizona and Oregon still playing basketball, advanced to the Quarterfinals of the NIT with a 74-64 win late Monday night in Pullman over Oklahoma St. (20-14).

Klay Thompson scored 14 of his game high 24 points in the first half to lead the Cougars, and Brock Motum came off the Washington St. bench for 17 more. DeAngelo Casto recovered nicely from some very early foul trouble to add 11more.

Thompson knocked down back to back three pointers, as the Cougars jumped out to a 9-0 run, and it looked like they might run the Cowboys out of Beasley Coliseum, but Oklahoma St. responded with a 14-4 run, capped by back to back baskets by Matt Pilgrim, who would go on to put up a 17 point, 11 rebound double double.

Thompson scored 2 points both before and after a basket by OK St.'s Roger Franklin, and the Cougars never trailed again over the last 30 minutes of the game.

Back to back Motum baskets made it 38-29 Cougars at halftime, and Washington St. expanded the lead to 51-37 7 minutes into the second half. Meanwhile, their 2-3 zone defense prevented Oklahoma St. from getting in off the perimeter with any consistency.

The Cowboys were only 21% on their three pointers, compared to 36% by Washington St., due largely to Thompson and Abe Lodwick.

The Cougars opened a 12 point lead several more times, and put the game away with 1:20 left, when Casto threw down an exclamation point dunk for a 15 point lead.

Washington St. will host Northwestern (20-13), the 8th. place team from the Big 10 11 Wednesday night at 8 PM at Friel Court, with the winner getting to go to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final Four.

The Wildcats have been off since an early Saturday 85-67 win at Boston College. Northwestern is playing well of late, having only lost one game in March, to NCAA top seed Ohio St. 67-61 in overtime

Expect an entertaining, high scoring contest, as both the Cougars and Wildcats are playing better offense than defense, and playing loose.

Andy _Wooldridge@yahoo.com