Washington State 85, Long Beach State 74

Long Beach State guard Larry Anderson shoots around Washington State guard Klay Thompson on Wednesday night. AP

Big first half lifts Cougs in first round of NIT

PULLMAN – The second half was virtually a microcosm of Washington State’s erratic season – and probably illustrated why this team is in the NIT.

It was the first 20 minutes, however, that had the meager spring break crowd of 4,213 at Beasley Coliseum questioning the Cougars’ absence from the NCAA tournament.

WSU delivered an early blow to Long Beach State,  weathered the Big West regular-season champion’s push and opened the National Invitational Tournament with a 85-74 win on Wednesday night.

The second-seeded Cougars will now play host to a second-round game against No. 3 seed Oklahoma State on Monday at 8:30 p.m.

Whether it’s the NIT or the NCAA tournament, though, WSU (20-12) stuck to any win-or-else tournament’s mantra: survive and advance.

Tribune subscribers can continue reading this story here

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