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March 13, 2008There might have been some question as to whether even playing in the Pac-10 conference tournament was a worthwhile endeavor for the 21st-ranked Washington State University Cougar men's hoop team. After all, the Cougars have sewn up an NCAA bid and are merely waiting to find out what seed they will receive on Sunday's selection show. But there was no question about how head men's hoop coach Tony Bennett and the Cougars felt about it as they came out smoking in the first half and held off the defending conference tournament champion Oregon Ducks for a 75-70 win that will advance them into the semifinals and a rematch with Stanford. Senior guard Derrick Low led four Cougars in double digits, with 18 points as WSU likely improved their NCAA seeding and moved to 24-7 overall on the year.
The Cougars wasted no time in immediately putting Oregon in the rearview mirror as they scored the first five points of the game courtesy of junior guard Taylor Rochestie. Oregon stayed close for a few more seconds, but leading 10-5, Wazzu embarked on a 10-3 run to take a 20-8 lead near the midway point of the first half. From that point, the Ducks were never able to get the lead under double digits for the remainder of the first half as the Cougars built as much as a 20-point lead and shot a torrid 62% in crafting their 15-point halftime lead at 42-27.
The two teams traded baskets for the first five minutes of the second half but Oregon began chipping away at the Cougars' lead and finally brought it under double digits with just under 10 minutes left to play in the game at 56-48. The Ducks would eventually creep even closer - within five points at 64-59 and then later at 73-68 - but a four-point deficit was as close as they could get as Wazzu hit nine of 14 free throws down the stretch to close out the 75-70 victory.
Other Cougars joining Low in double figures were fellow seniors Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill with 14 and 12 points respectively, while Rochestie added 16. Cowgill also led the team with six rebounds.
The Cougars will play Stanford at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 14 in Los Angeles.
+++++++sponsored by Clark's Restaurant+++++++++
Attention COUGAR fans and well-wishers! Hoop season is here! 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 nine 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 ice cream.
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