Watts and Luton score 41 to lead men's basketball.
January 5, 1998
SEATTLE -- Donald Watts scored 21 points and Deon Luton added 20 points as the Washington men's basketball team withstood a late charge by Washington State to beat the Cougars 82-76 in front of 6,406 fans at Hec Edmundson Pavilion Monday night.
The Cougars were playing their first game without leading scorer Rodrigo de la Fuente (16.1 ppg), who one day earlier left for Spain to play professional basketball. In his absence, Carlos Daniel led all scorers with a season-high 25 points which made the 6-foot-7 senior just the 21st Cougar to reach 1,000 career points. He also grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds. Kojo Mensah-Bonsu came off the bench to score 13 points for WSU. Todd MacCulloch added 15 points and 11 rebounds for UW.
Michael Johnson's baseline 3-pointer with 4:34 left was the final basket of the game for the Huskies (8-2 overall, 1-0 Pacific-10) and gave UW a 68-51 advantage. Luton pushed the lead to 70-53 with a pair of free throws at 3:47.
After a media timeout, the Cougars (7-5 overall, 0-1 Pacific-10) went on a 12-0 run with six points from Daniel to cut UW's lead to 70-65 with 1:36 remaining. The Huskies' final 14 points all came from made free throws with Johnson scoring the last five points at the foul line.
Washington looked to blow the Cougars out from the beginning with a 14-2 run. WSU turned the ball over on its first three possessions and had eight turnovers with 15:30 left to play in the first half. The Cougars fought back to trim UW's lead to 38-33 at the half, but the Huskies opened the second 20 minutes with an 11-2 run started with a pair of back-to-back 3-point baskets by Watts.
"It comes down to never say die," said Daniel of the Cougars' many comebacks. "Once we stopped turning the ball over and started going to the basket we were right back in the game. We got to the top of the hill, we just couldn't get over the hump."
Both teams were plagued with miscues. For the game, WSU had 24 turnovers while the Huskies finished with a season-high 28 turnovers.
Daniel and the Cougars held a 35-34 rebounding advantage over the Huskies despite 7-1 Patrick Femerling and 7-0 Todd MacCulloch in the together in the lineup. Fourteen of WSU's rebounds came at the offensive end.
"It takes a little time to get used to playing against a guy who is 7-1, but to me, that's been the story of my career," Daniel said. "Rebounding is just about work. We needed rebounds and I went and got it done."
The Cougars continue conference play Thursday, Jan. 8 when they host defending NCAA champion Arizona (11-3 overall, 2-0 Pacific-10) in a 7 p.m. PST game at the Spokane Arena. Then Sunday, Jan. 11, WSU returns to Pullman for the first time in a month when the Cougars host Arizona State ina 12 p.m. PST game at Friel Court.
Additional Quote From Washington State Head Coach Kevin Eastman - "The big thing was we turned the basketball over too much. At halftime, we told our players we're sitting okay because we were shooting 52 percent, but we had 15 turnovers. If you give us half of those back, we get eight or nine extra points and the game has a totally different complexion to it."
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