Role reversal: Coug D falters in loss

WASHINGTON STATE entered the league opener against Arizona ranked No. 3 nationally in scoring defense but it was the Wildcats who put on the defensive clinic Thursday night in Spokane. The Cougars were held to 33.3 percent shooting as Arizona halted the Cougs three game winning streak with a 70-52 victory in the Pac-10 opener for both teams.

The Cougars, who dropped to 7-3, had raced off to their best start 1996-97 despite a high turnover rate of 16.7 a game. Thursday was no different as WSU turned the ball over 18 times but it was the rebounding and shooting percentage, or lack thereof, that were the most telling stats.

Arizona (8-3) dominated the boards to the tune of 47-27 on the night. Ivory Clark pulled down eight rebounds but no other Cougar had more than three.

Derrick Low, sophomore point guard from Honolulu, scored 11 points, dished off three assists and produced three steals but it wasn't nearly enough against the defending Pac-10 champs.

Josh Akognon scored nine points but was 3-10 from the field, while Randy Weaver added eight points in 18 minutes off the bench.

THERE WAS, HOWEVER, reason for Cougar optimism early on. Washington State hung tough with Arizona most of the first half, trailing 24-22 with three minutes left. But Arizona got hot and reeled off an 11-4 run to head into the locker room up by seven. And then they came out firing to open the second half.

'Zona used a 14-6 run out of the gate to begin the second half, scoring six consecutive points on three Cougar turnovers. UA had all but sealed the win six minutes in as they lead 49-32 lead after a Hassan Adams, (game high 25 points), steal and dunk with 14 minutes remaining.

Washington State finally found their shooting touch to pull to within seven at 49-42 with Robbie Cowgill scoring five of his seven points during the run and Akognon nailing a 3-pointer.

But the 10-0 spurt was short-lived and the Cougs could never pull any closer. Cowgill finished with three blocks, four boards and was 5-6 from the charity stripe.

The Cougars return to Pullman on Saturday to play Arizona State. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.

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