Honolulu, HI (Sports Network) – Klay Thompson scored 20 points and Washington State overcame blowing a huge second-half lead, but upended 15th-ranked Baylor, 77-71, in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic at Stan Sheriff Center.
Faisal Aden added 13 points, while DeAngelo Casto, Reggie Moore and Brock Motum each posted 12 points for the Cougars (10-1), who will play Butler in the championship game on Saturday.
LaceDarius Dunn provided 29 points for the Bears (8-2), who also received 16 points and 12 rebounds from Quincy Acy.
Baylor trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half before rallying to take a three-point edge, only to falter down the stretch.
Washington State shot 61.9 percent (13-of-21) in the second half and that helped the Cougars hold on at the end. There was also a huge 25-3 bench point differential in favor of the Cougars.
Ahead already 39-26 at halftime, thanks in part to holding Baylor to 8-of-28 shooting in the opening 20 minutes, the Cougars widened the advantage. Aden’s jumper gave the Cougars a 55-35 cushion with 14 1/2 minutes left.
Motum’s bucket made it 59-41 inside 13 minutes remaining, but the Bears mounted a furious comeback, going on a dominating 23-2 burst. Dunn had the first nine of the spurt and accounted for 18 points total in the rally. His jumper gave Baylor a 62-61 lead inside seven minutes left, and his two free throws capped the push.
Moore came back with a layup, and Thompson’s three-ball moved Washington State back on top, 66-64, with 4 1/2 minutes left.
After another Moore jumper, Dunn’s three-pointer from the right wing closed the margin to 68-67 with 1:44 left. Thompson, though, drained a long three from well beyond the top of the arc, and the Cougars made six foul shots in the closing 32.4 seconds to seal the win.
Thompson’s three-pointer extended the Cougars to a 19-11 lead nearly seven minutes into the game. His 1-of-2 effort at the charity stripe with nearly 5 1/2 minutes left in the half made it 35-19.
Dunn made all 12 of his foul shots, but the Bears were just 4-of-22 from three-point range, including Dunn’s 3-of-15 effort…Perry Jones III had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Bears…Baylor shot 36.7 percent from the field, compared to 57.1 for the Cougars…Thompson was 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, part of a 9-of-18 performance for Washington State…Prior to this game, Baylor had held all nine opponents under 70 points.