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March 7, 2009

Huskies Fight Off Cougars




He was at it again. Senior guard Taylor Rochestie was trying to will the Washington State University men's hoop team to their fourth consecutive victory but the Washington Huskies were able to fend off Rochestie's late game offense and fought off the Cougars for a 67-60 victory in Seattle. With the loss, the Cougars finish the regular season at 16-14 overall and 8-10 in Pac-10 play as they prepare to enter next week's conference tournament.

Rochestie led the Cougars with 23 points while fellow senior Aron Baynes added 16 of his own.


Wazzu began in a positive fashion as they scored the game's first three points and four of their five starters all scored in the first four minutes of play as they took a 9-7 lead. Baynes took advantage of the Husky head coach Lorenzo Romar's decision to start senior Artem Wallace and scored 11 first-half points. Neither team shot the ball well in the first half but there was no lack of effort as evidenced by the 90-degree dive for a loose ball near mid-court by Wazzu senior Caleb Forrest with the game tied at 15-all.

Husky defensive specialist guard Venoy Overton, picked up three first half fouls but the Cougars could not take advantage as neither Rochestie nor freshman Klay Thompson could find their shots in the first half. Despite the scoring drought from the guards, Wazzu was able to craft a 25-25 tie before Washington scored the half's final five points to take a 30-25 lead into the locker room at halftime. Baynes led the Cougars with his 11 points at the half and Rochestie canned six but no other player was able to muster more than two points.

All that changed in the first few minutes of the second half as Rochestie, Forrest and Thompson combined for the Cougars' first 16 points of th ehalf before Baynes scored again to bring Wazzu within one at 44-43 with 11:43 left in the game. Thompson, however, got into foul trouble and had to sit on the bench with three fouls, and then, had to sit later in the half with four fouls. With the scoring threat of Thompson, the Huskies took an eight-point lead before Thompson re-entered the game and brought it back.

Wazzu brought the Husky lead down to a single point three times in the second half but were unable to get completely over the hump. Each time, Washington was able to extend their lead just enough to keep the Cougars at bay. When Thompson exited with his fourth foul, Rochestie, like he has done so many times before, came alive and scored the Cougars' next eight out of their nine points to bring them within two at 58-56 with 3:55 left in the contest. But again the Huskies created a six digit gap and when Forrest's bucket, which would have brought the deficit down to four, was called off due to an offensive charge, Washington was able to hold off the Cougars the rest of the way.

Baynes had a double-double with 11 boards and added three blocks while junior Nikola Koprivica led the team with five assists.



Wazzu next plays at the Pac-10 conference tournament next week in Los Angeles.




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