WSU hands K-State first defeat, moves to 4-1

IT MAY YET turn out to be a season of growing pains for the youthful Cougars in Year Three of the Bennett project at Washington State, but the early returns on 2005 have been promising. Coach Dick Bennett says his third year has always been the most trying, and with but one senior, three juniors and 12 sophomores and freshmen on the roster, some tough stretches are to be expected but the Cougs still moved to 4-1 Saturday, knocking off previously unbeaten Kansas State 58-57 in Pullman.

Point guard Derrick Low paced the Cougar attack with 14 points and added five assists while Guard Kyle Weaver chipped in another 12 points and made two key defensive stops down the stretch as WSU dropped Kansas State (4-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Weaver stole the ball from Lance Harris with seven seconds remaining but missed both free throws after being fouled with 5.7 seconds on the clock. Then Weaver blocked Harris's 3-point field-goal attempt just before the final buzzer.

The Cougar big men also played key roles in the win. Center Robbie Cowgill, coming off a fractured collarbone that benched the 6-10 skyscraper at the beginning of the year, pulled down nine boards and added another nine points in 34 minutes, while center and Australian import Aron Baynes along with senior guard Randy Green provided the spark off the bench, contributing seven points each on a combined 6-of-9 shooting.

Defensively, the Cougs limited K-State to 37.7 percent shooting, caused a dozen turnovers and blocked four shots. The Wildcats were held to season lows for points, field-goal shooting percentage, and free-throw shooting percentage (53.3). Washington State has limited opponents to 54.4 points per game and 33.6 percent field-goal shooting this season.

But Washington State had issues of their own, with 13 turnovers and shooting only 8-15 from the charity stripe.

The Cougs led most of the game, keyed by a 12-0 run early, but were unable to pull away. Three points or fewer separating the teams most of the game. There were seven ties and eight lead changes, and the Cougs missed all three of their free throws after Martin hit a three-point play to end the scoring with 24 seconds left.

Next up for Washington State, a Thursday night clash in Spokane against No. 6 Gonzaga.

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