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February 24, 2007It was a long time coming but the anticipation only makes it sweeter. The Cougars finally got their first victory in the state of Oregon since head coach Tony Bennett has been on staff as they fought off Oregon State for a 58-54 win in Corvallis.
The Cougars had three players reach double figures, led by sophomore Aron Baynes with 14 - most of them on dunks or free throws after being fouled on dunk attempts, who was followed by junior Robbie Cowgill with 12 while junior Derrick Low chipped in 10. Cowgill and Baynes each had six boards to lead the Cougars in rebounding.
"He's like a cement truckwhen he gets up there," says Bennett of Baynes and his dunks.
The Beavers came out strong on senior night, breaking out to a 10-3 lead at the first time out as the Cougars were shooting blanks with the exception of a trey from sophomore Daven Harmeling. Head coach Tony Bennett started Taylor Rochestie after Kyle Weaver was disciplined for being late for a 10:30 curfew the previous evening. That move hurt the Cougars early on as they played sloppy in the opening minutes - committing four turnovers in their first 12 possessions - but were able to re-group once Weaver was inserted into the game at the 14:52 mark in the first half.
They pulled to within a point on several occasions and even briefly tied it at 25, but they never led and Oregon State, led by Marcel Jones, ended the first half with a 7-2 run and a 32-27 lead at the break.
"Their guards played better this time and Marcel Jones caused us some mismatch problems," said Bennett after the game.
In the second half, Oregon State came out with a head of steam and built an eight-point lead - their largest of the game - at 40-32 just five minutes into the half. The Beavers kept the Cougars at bay for the next five minutes, holding onto a 45-38 before Wazzu went on a 9-0 run - or rather, Baynes went on the run, scoring all nine of the Cougars' points - to take their first lead of the game at 47-45. From there, the Cougars never relinquished the lead as the two teams battled neck-and-neck for the rest of the way until sophomore Mac Hopson hit a runner in the lane to give WSU a 56-54 lead. Baynes added two game-clinching free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining in the game to give Wazzu their largest lead of the game and the hard-fought win.
The win allows Wazzu to keep pace with UCLA - who they will host in a few days - and their hopes of sharing the Pac-10 conference title with the Bruins as they remain two games behind the Bruins with two games left to play.
"I think there's going to be a lot of electricity in the building," says Bennett of the upcoming battle in Beasley.
The Cougars next take on UCLA on Thursday, March 1 at 7pm at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman.
+++++++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