March 7, 1998
PULLMAN, Wash. - Donald Watts scored 21 points and Washington made its case for an NCAA Tournament berth with a 70-51 victory over Washington State before a crowd of 6,203 at Friel Court Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars (10-19 overall, 3-15 Pacific-10) shot just 36.2 percent from the field en route to their lowest point total of the season. The Huskies (18-9 overall, 11-7 Pac-10) secured a fourth-place finish in the league standings and won five of their final seven contests. The UW is looking for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1986.
Carlos Daniel, WSU's only senior, closed his 113-game career with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season. Junior Steve Slotemaker was the only other Cougar to score in double digits with 10 points and six rebounds.
Starters Thalo Green (12), Deon Luton (11) and Jan Wooten (11) each reached double digit scoring for the Huskies, who shot an even 50 percent for the game.
Both teams were tied 26-26 when the Huskies used a 9-4 run over the last 3:35 which included six points from Watts to give the UW a 35-30 lead at intermission.
The Huskies opened the second half with a 13-3 run with six points coming from Luton. WSU's three points in the first 8:55 of the half came on a layup by Leif Nelson at 17:33 and a single made free throw by Kab Kazadi at 15:23.
Quotes from Washington State head coach Kevin Eastman - "That's the best I've seen Washington play since I've been here. They shot it very well and played with a tremendous amount of emotion. They played with purpose and poise. We just went up against an emotional buzz-saw. It's not that we didn't have any answers, it's just that they played very well. They just kept banging (the shots) in. We went to zone for about six straight possession and they hit a pair of threes. We didn't really do that bad of a job defensively. We couldn't seem to put the ball in the basket. I think it's more a matter of what they did, not so much what we didn't or couldn't do."
Eastman on Washington's NCAA Tournament chances- "To me it's a no brainer. I think they're talented enough to be in the NCAA Tournament and certainly good enough. "
Quotes from Washington head coach Bob Bender - "I'm proud of our players. We had a great contribution from the whole group. It was a game we had to play well to win and I think we did that. Most important we wanted to play well, I think we had to play well and we did. I think we were tentative (in the first half) and had to feel our way through for a while. I want to wish Carlos Daniel all the best in the future. He's one of the guys that makes (the Pac-10) a special league."
Bob Bender on NCAA Tournament - "I know we deserve to be in (NCAA Tournament). This is the time you explain that there are no guarantees."
Quotes from Washington State senior Carlos Daniel - "I definitely wanted to go out with the win. I tried my hardest and gave 110 percent. A lot of guys didn't shoot the ball well tonight, but that seems to be the story of our season. Hopefully people will say that Carlos Daniel left a tradition of working hard."