December 20, 1997
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Washington State raced to a 15-point second half lead, then survived a long scoring draught as the Cougars bested Portland State 77-72 Saturday night at the Rose Garden during the first game of the Ford Classic.
Rodrigo de la Fuente posted the second double-double of his career with 17 points and a career-best 13 rebounds. He also added four assists and steals. Chris Crosby scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half while Carlos Daniel had 13 points and Blake Pengelly added 10 points.
"Portland State's small lineup hurt us with matchup," said Cougar head coach Kevin Eastman. WSU was whistled for its tenth team foul with 11:02 remaining in the second half and the Vikings converted 16 of 19 free throw attempts after halftime.
A 3-point basket by Pengelly at 7:16 put WSU ahead 65-55, but the Cougars would go scoreless during the next five minutes and 20 seconds. Portland State rattled off a 9-0 run during that stretch with Jason Hartman scoring the last six points with back-to-back 3-point baskets which cut WSU's lead to 65-64 with 2:26 to go. Hartman paced all scorers with 24 points and five 3-pointers.
"I'm glad the game ended tight," Eastman said. "We can't simulate that type of game situation in practice."
Crosby finally dumped in a hook shot and was fouled at 1:56 to break PSU's streak. Crosby missed the free throw, but de la Fuente collected one of his four steals and dished to Daniel who hit a hanging layup. de la fuente hit a 15-foot jump shot and Daniel made the first of two foul shots to put WSU ahead 72-66, but the Vikings would come to within 74-72.