Feb. 26, 2009
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - PULLMAN -- Washington State seems to be peaking during a late run for postseason play.
Taylor Rochestie scored 17 points as the Cougars rode a huge second half to a 69-53 win over Arizona on Thursday night.
Klay Thompson added 16 points for Washington State (15-13, 7-9 Pac-10) which beat a major nemesis for the second consecutive game. The Cougars upset UCLA on Saturday, winning at Pauley Pavilion for only the second time in their history.
But the Cougars are refusing to look too far down the road.
"We're just trying to play good ball," coach Tony Bennett said. "We've been close all year. It's nice to finish a couple of games against some high-level opponents."
Nic Wise led Arizona (18-10, 8-7) with 19 points, 15 in the first half. He went down hard in the second and hurt his back but should be able to play Saturday against Washington, Arizona coach Russ Pennell said.
The Cougars have two more regular-season games and probably need to win the Pacific-10 tournament to make it to the NCAAs for a third consecutive year. But players declined to talk about postseason hopes.
"I love the way we are playing as far as just wanting to win," said Rochestie, the senior point guard who scored 33 against UCLA. "Whatever the outcome, this is the way we are supposed to play basketball.
"We are playing for each other."
Caleb Forrest, who finished with 15 points, downplayed the Cougars' postseason chances.
"We'd like to make it to the NIT if that comes up," Forrest said.
Arizona was cruising in the first half with a 27-16 lead. Then the Cougars outscored the Wildcats 10-2 in the final five minutes, capped by Thompson's long three-pointer at the buzzer to trail just 29-26 at halftime.
Feeding the ball to Thompson, Forrest and DeAngelo Casto on the high post, the Cougars opened with a 21-6 run to take a 47-35 lead midway through the second half. Arizona rarely got within single digits again.