Harmeling big down stretch, Cougs move to 6-0

WITH THE 66-64 WIN over Boise State on Saturday, the Cougars under first year head coach Tony Bennett are off to their best start (6-0) since the 1993-94 season, the last time Washington State went to the Big Dance. Derrick Low scored 17 points and Daven Harmeling came off the bench to hit a couple of three point daggers to help seal the win for the Cougars.

Washington State trailed by four at the break and for much of the second half until Daven Harmeling nailed a trey with a little over three minutes remaining to give WSU a 58-57 lead. And Harmeling wasn't done yet.

"That was pretty close," said Bennett. "Some guys made some plays down the stretch starting with Daven Harmeling's four-point play."

With a minute to play and the Cougs trailing by a deuce, Harmeling connected from downtown again and was fouled on the play. The 6-7 sophomore calmly hit the free throw for the four point play and a 64-62 Cougar lead.

Derrick Low scored a team high 17 points including some clutch free throws and Kyle Weaver added 12 points and five rebounds for the Cougars. Harmeling's 11 points came in 18 minutes of work off the bench.

The Wazzu big men found themselves in early foul trouble -- Washington State was out-rebounded 40-27 for the game by Boise State and made only 3-of-15 three-pointers.

"We've to figure out a way to keep Robbie out of trouble in the first half," said Bennett. "All of our bigs were in foul trouble in the first half. Robbie came out and had a very good second half."

But the Cougs also played their trademark defense, grabbing 10 steals against the Broncos. Boise State hit just 3-of-19 from three-point land and had 21 turnovers, 10 more than Washington State's 11 TOs.

"I knew it was a game that would come down to the end. It was a matter of getting one or two stops in a row," said Bennett.

Bennett in his first season at the crimson helm has done something no other Cougar basketball coach has ever done. Washington State is off to their best start ever under a first year coach, now sitting at 6-0 for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign, the seventh and final season of Kelvin Sampson's coaching tenure on the Palouse. The Cougs went 20-11 in '93-94, placing fourth in the conference and earning their last invitation to the NCAA tourney.

Washington State hosts Portland on Wednesday, with a 7 p.m. tip-off at Beasley.

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