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March 9, 2007
Defeating an opponent a third time in a row is a daunting task - but the 11th-ranked WSU Cougars have now done it five times in a row with their 74-64 victory over the rival Washington Huskies in the Pac-10 conference tournament. The five consecutive wins over the Huskies represents the longest win streak for the Cougars in 66 years in the series. The second-seeded Cougars now advance to play the third-seeded USC Trojans in the conference semifinal.
Coming into the game, the Huskies were riding a winning streak and momentum that they were hoping would take them to the NCAA tournament. But after being worn down in their first round win over a scrappy Arizona State squad, they were no match for the well-rested Cougars in the second half as a short-lived halftime lead melted away quickly and Wazzu took the lead then gradually pulled away in the waning minutes through the late-game production of sophomore Taylor Rochestie, who poured in 20 points while Derrick Low added 15, Robbie Cowgill also chipped in 14 and Kyle Weaver tacked on 13. Cowgill also brought down five boards to lead the Cougars in rebounding.
The first half was a defensive nightmare for the Cougars as they gave up 36 points - the majority of them in the paint as Weaver and Aron Baynes got into quick foul trouble and Cowgill and Daven Harmeling were unable to stop Washington from scoring down low. But Low regained his shooting touch and kept the Cougars within shouting distance by scoring 12 of his points in the first frame to pull them within 36-32 at the break.
In the second half, the poised Cougars responded by scoring on six of their first seven possessions to take a 45-41 lead and while Washington would come back to tie the game, the Huskies would never see the lead again. Rochestie made sure of that as he inserted the first dagger with a three-point shot that gave the Cougars a 68-62 lead with under two minutes to play, then hitting an off-balance leaner in the lane that was effectively the second and final dagger in the Huskies. From that point on, the Huskies would remain scoreless and could only watch helplessly as they fouled and Wazzu pulled away by hitting free throws for the final margin of victory.
With the victory, the Cougars improve to 25-6 overall - one victory away from tying the school record for the most victories in a season set in 1941 - and probably solidified no worse than a 4 seed in the Big Dance next week.
The Cougars will play USC in the Pac-10 conference tournament on Friday, March 9 at 8:30pm at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
+++++++sponsored by Clark's Restaurant+++++++++
Attention COUGAR Fans! Winter is here and now you're hungry. How can you afford to go one day further without some tasty morsels from Clark's Restaurant in Grays Harbor - home of the Best Hamburger in Twin Harbors for seven consecutive years? Come in for the burger, fresh homemade fries and milkshakes concocted from homemade ice cream. Go ahead, we dare you to try and pass up more than 12 varieties of hamburgers to choose from, full dinners, lunch and full breakfast served daily. Clark's Restaurant 360.538.1487. Seven miles south of Aberdeen, Washington on Highway 101. Proud supporter of CougZone. Mention this ad for a free small hot chocolate.
Penn State NEWS