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Cougars flying high, Zags look for answers after blowout

by Nicholas K. Geranios
| December 10, 2010 8:00 PM

PULLMAN - Forget about Klay Thompson the scorer.

Thompson put on a full display of skills in leading Washington State past Gonzaga 81-59 on Wednesday night in the annual battle of eastern Washington rivals.

Thompson led all scorers with 24 points, and added seven steals, six assists, six rebounds and even blocked a shot by Gonzaga's 7-foot center Robert Sacre.

"I don't know if I ever blocked a 7-footer before," said Thompson, the leading scorer in the Pac-10. "I was pretty excited after that."

Washington State coach Ken Bone said the junior guard, son of NBA star Mychal Thompson, has blossomed this year.

"He is becoming a well-rounded player," Bone said. "He's not just a shooter anymore."

Thompson scored 21 of his points in the second half for Washington State (6-1), losers only to No. 5 Kansas State.

Gonzaga (4-4) is suffering its worst start in Mark Few's 12 years as coach, with three of the losses to teams ranked among the top 16.

"We've got to keep our heads up," said Sacre, who was held to six points but grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots. "It's a long season."

Three-pointers have been Gonzaga's nemesis this season. They gave up 12 to Kansas State and 13 to Illinois, both losses.

The Bulldogs, who came in averaging 48 percent from the field, made just 19-of-48 shots, including just 4-of-18 from 3-point range. They committed 25 turnovers.

"We haven't faced an athletic zone very well all year," Few said. "We didn't tonight."

Leading scorer Steven Gray, who averages 20 points, scored seven. Sam Dower led the Zags with 11 points. Elias Harris, a sophomore who is considered a pro prospect, has been slowed all season by an Achilles' injury and was held to six points.

Gonzaga ended the first half on an 18-5 run to pull within 30-24. But Washington State made seven of its first eight shots to open the second half for a 47-31 lead. Last year, the Cougars relinquished a big lead in losing to Gonzaga.

"This year when we face adversity like that we don't fold," Thompson said. "We don't hang our heads."

The schools are located 75 miles apart, and WSU won for just the third time in the past 12 meetings.

"I think it (the win) means we're pretty good," Thompson said. "We showed we could compete with everybody."

WSU plays Texas-Pan American tonight at the Spokane Arena. Gonzaga travels to Notre Dame on Saturday.

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