Washington State (19-16) at Pittsburgh (20-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 28, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Petersen Events Center (12,508) -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Television: HDNet. CBI Record: Washington State 4-0, Pittsburgh 3-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Washington State Cougars attempt to become the third Pac-12 Conference team in the five-year history of the College Basketball Invitational to be crowned tournament champions when they square off with the Pittsburgh Panthers tonight at the Petersen Events Center.
Tonight marks Game Two of the CBI's unique best-of-three championship series. If the Panthers win, they will force a Game Three, which will also be played in Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Washington State (19-16) was able to take advantage of its only home game of the three-game series by winning on Monday night, 67-66. The Cougars appeared to have taken control after they extended their lead to a game-high 12 points with just under eight minutes to play in the second half, but Pittsburgh (20-17) would not go quietly, as a three-point play by Talib Zanna with 1:01 left to play capped off a 17-7 run and cut the Panthers' deficit to just two, 67-65. After empty possessions by both teams, Zanna was fouled with four seconds remaining and had a chance to tie the game at the charity stripe, but he made just 1-of-2 to make it a 67-66 game. Pitt immediately fouled Abe Lodwick, who missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Panthers one last possession to try and steal the win. A Tray Woodall layup attempt was blocked by D.J. Shelton, then Lamar Patterson collected the offensive rebound and put up a jumper as time expired, but it did not fall, and WSU escaped with the victory.
With the win, the Cougars pulled even in the all-time series with the Panthers to 1-1.
Washington State's hot shooting continued in Monday's win, as the team connected on 51.2 percent of its field goal attempts, and it has now shot 48 percent or better from the floor in three of its four CBI wins. Leading the way for the Cougars was Lodwick, who made good on 6-of-12 shots from the floor, including 4-of-5 from three-point range, for 16 points. Reggie Moore added 14 points and DaVonte Lacy chipped in with 10. The effort by the Cougars was all the more impressive considering they were without the Pac-12's leading scorer, Brock Motum (18.0 ppg), who was held out of the game after suffering a right ankle injury in the semifinal win over Oregon State last week. Motum's status for tonight's game remains questionable. If WSU's star forward cannot go once again, it will surely need another night of big-time performances from Moore (9.8 ppg, 5.3 apg), Lacy (8.4 ppg) and Lodwick (7.0 ppg).
Pittsburgh started off the game red-hot, getting out to an 8-2 lead in the first four minutes and eventually taking a 38-35 advantage into halftime. The Panthers went cold early on in the second half however, resulting in the 12- point deficit, digging themselves a hole too deep to get out of even after the furious comeback attempt in the waning minutes. Woodall was the spark plug for the Panthers in the loss, putting up 16 points and seven assists. J.J. Moore came off the bench to also net 16 points, and Nasir Robinson added 11 points to the mix. Pitt's leading scorer on the season is Ashton Gibbs with 14.6 ppg, but he has been off his game during the CBI, averaging a meager 7.3 points in the four games, including an 0-of-8 effort from the field for zero points in the semifinal round against Butler. With Gibbs struggling, the Panthers have been relying mostly on Woodall (11.7 ppg, 6.1 apg), Robinson (10.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Patterson (9.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.5 apg) for their offensive punch.
Washington State has the first of two opportunities to knock off the Panthers on their home floor and if Motum is able to go, the Cougars will have a have a good chance to hoist the trophy tonight. However, Pitt outplayed WSU for the majority of Game One, and with the home crowd on its side should be able to limit its mistakes and force a decisive third game on Friday night.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 72, Washington State 67
03/28 10:56:50 ET