PORTLAND – The NBA lockout has left Portland without its beloved Trail Blazers, so the Washington State Cougars brought the collegiate version of the NBA to the Rose City on Sunday night.
The Cougars were at their run-and-gun, slam-dunking, shot-swatting, flashy-passing best before getting sloppy in the second half of an 83-73 triumph over the University of Portland.
The young Pilots matched WSU’s energy level, which made for an entertaining evening for 3,613 spectators. Five Pilots scored in double figures, including high-flying freshman guard Kevin Bailey, who scored all of his team-high 14 points in the second half.
The Cougars, who started slowly in Thursday’s win over Sacramento State, came out flying at the Chiles Center. WSU (2-1) led almost all the way.
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“Our energy level was much better tonight, especially at the start of the game,” Washington State coach Ken Bone said.
Senior guard Faisal Aden led the Cougars with 21 points and six turnovers. Reggie Moore pitched in with six points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals in a dominant performance against rival point guard Tim Douglas.
“Reggie was really good tonight,” Bone said. “He distributed the ball well.”
Moore, who said he felt fully recovered from a preseason groin strain for the first time in a game, was effective with his drive-and-dish playmaking.
“That’s my plan every game, just to attack the rim,” Moore said.
The Cougars (2-1) shot 57 percent in the second half and 56 percent for the game, but 11 of their 16 turnovers came in the second half.
“It was not very impressive at all on the offensive end,” Bone said. “Very, very careless. Undisciplined.
“I think Portland had something to do with that. (Pilots coach Eric Reveno) does a great job. His kids played hard. They turned up the heat.”
The Pilots (2-2), coming off a 93-63 loss at Washington, shot just 40 percent. That included a 24 percent effort (5-for-21) from 3-point range, as one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams from recent years continues to struggle from beyond the arc.
Portland guard Nemanja Mitrovic, sixth in NCAA Division I last year with 46.3 percent shooting on 3-pointers, went 2-for-8 from long range. He finished with 11 points, and Bone credited Marcus Capers and Mike Ladd with “very good” defensive work against Mitrovic.
The Pilots made 20 turnovers, but WSU was out-rebounded for the third straight game. Portland’s 39-28 advantage on the boards included a 16-4 difference on the offensive end.
The Cougars face Oklahoma (2-0) on Thursday at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif. ESPN2 televises Thursday’s contest at 8:30 p.m.