Hot-hand 'contagious' for Cougs in win No. 13

PULLMAN -- On a night when almost everyone had a hand in the cookie jar, WSU forward Robbie Cowgill had the sweet tooth. The 6-9 junior forward had a team-high 16 points, grabbed five boards and generated two steals Thursday to lead the Cougars to a 75-55 triumph over Arizona State. The win improves the Cougs to 13-2, with No. 7 Arizona on tap Saturday.

It was the team's second consecutive Pac-10 win. And with victory No. 13, the Cougars tied their highest season win total since the 1995-96 campaign.

"I haven't been playing great offensively this year, that's no secret," Cowgill said. "But they started falling tonight. I felt confident."

The Cougars used every ounce of its roster to down the Sun Devils. WSU guard Derrick Low dished a season-high seven assists and was one of four Cougars in double-digit scoring.

Low had no problem finding the net, shooting four of six beyond the arc and finishing with 14 points.

"The first couple shots that went in were big confidence boosters for the rest of us to shoot," Low said. "It's a contagious feeling. If someone is shooting well, someone else is going to start hitting it."

The Cougar defense did not have its usual overwhleming presence for the first 20 minutes -- Arizona State, despite a plethora of turnovers, stayed close to the Cougs in the first half with 61.9 percent shooting accuracy.

In the second half, WSU forward Ivory Clark had the duty of guarding red-hot Devil Christian Polk, and the Cougars rolled to a 16-6 start out of the locker room. With a suddenly energized crowd of 2,504 -- minus the students who are still on holiday break -- the Cougars never looked back.

"Ivory came out and guarded Polk who had a tremendous first half," WSU head coach Tony Bennett said. "He actually didn't score in the second half. I really challenged Ivory to bother him. That helped us."

The Cougars and Sun Devils both shot 54 percent from the field, but the name of the game was turnovers. The Cougars committed just six turnovers -- two of them in the game's waning moments and after WSU had gone ahead by 20 -- while the Sun Devils struggled to hang on with 16.

With WSU center Aron Baynes out indefinitely with a sprained ankle suffered Wednesday in practice, the Cougars needed production from the bench.

WSU forward Caleb Forrest jumped up to contribute 11 points to a Cougars offense that misses Baynes physical presence near the basket. Forrest also logged two rebounds in just 14 minutes of play. After the game, Bennett raved about his performance.

"I complimented him in the locker room," Bennett said of Forrest. "He keeps his mouth shut and works as hard as he can in practice and doesn't say a word if he plays or not. He really prepares himself, and when his opportunity came tonight he was ready to go and it was very important for us."

NOTES:
The entire Cougar squad -- minus the injured Baynes and walk on Ryan Bailey -- saw action against ASU.

Junior Kyle Weaver doubled up on his team-leading per-game assist average, dishing off seven against the Devils.

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