Nov. 30, 2007
WACO, Texas (AP) -Derrick Low kept taking shots for No. 6 Washington State, even though most of them were missing the mark for the team's leading scorer.
His perseverance paid off - and kept the Cougars undefeated.
Low was only 1-of-8 shooting before hitting consecutive 3-pointers in a span of 46 seconds to finally push Washington State in front, and the Cougars went on to a 67-64 victory Friday night over a scrappy Baylor team looking for a signature victory.
"I knew my shot was going to come," Low insisted. "As a shooter, you have to keep shooting them and eventually they'll go down. Thank God, they came at the right time."
Low, who was held scoreless in the first half, made a tying 3-pointer with 3:06 left in the game. After Aaron Bruce missed a shot for Baylor (5-1), Low hit another 3 to make it 63-60 and the Cougars remained in front the rest of the way.
Low finished with nine points on three 3-pointers.
Washington State (7-0) is off to its best start since opening the 1991-92 season with 12 straight victories.
"That's about as good as it gets in terms of character," coach Tony Bennett said. "They showed they were a better team in the second half. The first half looked like they were freshmen, but then they showed that they were experienced players."
Baylor led 44-30 after Aaron Bruce made consecutive 3-pointers of his own. The Bears were their deepest into a season without a loss since starting 12-0 in 2000-01.
Low then made his first basket of the night, but the Cougars still trailed by 11. The deficit was finally under double-digits for good when Taylor Rochestie drove hard on the left side of the basket, then passed to Robbie Cowgill for a layup that made it 46-37.
Low had his first shot at a go-ahead basket with about 10 1/2 minutes left, but he missed and Bruce scored at the other end to extend Baylor's lead to 50-47. But Low didn't miss with 3:07 left - or again with 2:20 to go.
Bruce had 13 points for Baylor. Curtis Jerrells and LaceDarius Dunn had 11 points, but Jerrells (cramps) and Dunn (left knee) didn't finish the game.
Baylor last beat a ranked opponent in 2003, and is 2-42 against ranked teams over the past seven seasons. The Bears have lost 29 in a row vs. Top 25 teams since beating Oklahoma State in February 2001.
They were hoping to earn a much-needed highlight victory for coach Scott Drew.
"The good thing for our team is that we're going to be in a lot of these games in the future, so this will be something good for us to learn from," Drew said. "There are no moral victories for us. We're not happy about the loss, and we're not happy about being close."
A crowd of more than 10,000 people filled the Ferrell Center and watched Washington State jump out to a 7-0 lead over the first 3 minutes. But the Bears scored seven in a row of their own, with Jerrells penetrating the lane for a basket before freshman Dunn came off the bench to hit a 3-pionter then a tying basket.
"We were definitely nervous in the beginning of the game, and that obviously showed," Drew said.
Midway through the first half, Baylor finally went ahead when Henry Dugat drove to the basket, got fouled and made the free throw for a 16-14 lead.
The Bears led 38-26 at intermission. By then, Washington State already had 11 turnovers, after averaging less than 10 a game coming in.
But the Cougars had only three turnovers after halftime, and got the needed boost from Low.
"They executed better in the second half, they didn't turn the ball over much and they got second chances," Drew said. "We can only blame ourselves for letting it slip out of our hands. They wanted it more than we did in the end."