COUGFAN TV: Low scores 37, refs need police

PULLMAN – The extent to which the basketball fortunes – and expectations – at WSU have climbed was illustrated boldly here Saturday when the crew officiating the No. 18 Cougars' 77-74 overtime loss to No. 7 Oregon ran off the court at game's end accompanied by police. Police escort? For the refs? In Pullman? CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY and STREAMING POST-GAME VIDEO INTERVIEWS

The 11,092 partisans, some of whom had rushed the court in joy at the end of regulation, were incensed with an outcome they felt unjust. And they were vocal about it as time wound down in the OT period.

The angst was understandable. With the Cougars up by two and 30 seconds remaining in regulation, WSU forward Robbie Cowgill drove to the basket and appeared to be fouled, but no whistle ensued. Following an Oregon timeout, Duck guard Aaron Brooks dwindled the clock away and took one final shot. The shot rimmed off into the hands of Pac-10 rebound leader Maarty Leunen. WSU center Aron Baynes contested the put-back shot and Leunen missed.

Fans began to rush the court in celebration. But one ref stood holding his hand. Baynes was called for a foul and Leunen calmly knocked down two free throws amidst the loudest Beasley crowd this season.

The Ducks jumped out to a 10-point lead in overtime that proved insurmountable.

"The refs aren't perfect and we've got to live with that," WSU guard Derrick Low said. Low scored a career-high 37 points to pace all scorers on both teams. "When you think you've got them it just shows that you've got to keep on being tough because any team just like Oregon can get right back in the game and they did. They played well."

But Low made the overtime interesting. With 18 seconds remaining, he hit a trey to bring the Cougars within three. After a Leunen turnover, Low and WSU guard Kyle Weaver combined for three missed treys as time ran out. "We fought hard through this game," Low said. "We felt like we should have had them but this shows how good the Pac-10 is."

With the loss, the Cougars, 17-4 overall and 6-3 in conference play, lost their opportunity to gain sole possession of second place in the conference. The team now is tied at third with USC. Oregon is second and UCLA first.

The Cougars got the best effort from a Ducks team embarrassed by a loss to Washington on Thursday. But Washington didn't have to deal with Brooks, sitting out the UW game for throwing an elbow at Husky Ryan Appleby last year. Brooks, the Pac-10's leading scorer, terrorized the Cougars with 31 points, including a trey with 1:48 left in regulation to bring the Ducks within three. Brooks also grabbed eight rebounds, behind just Leunen with ten.

"They are so quick, one through five," said WSU head coach Tony Bennett. "They definitely pose some problems, Brooks especially." Bennett said his team was a bit deflated when the game went into overtime. With 3:50 left, the Cougars were up 60-51 and had momentum. But just seconds later, Cougar forward Ivory Clark fouled out and the Ducks proceeded to grind.

"Ivory has that ability to block a shot or grab a rebound in an area that no one else can," Bennett said. "For him to foul out like that….changed the momentum." The Cougars' bench was already on empty with Nikola Kopravica leaving the game with a knee injury in the first half.

The triad of Cowgill, Low and Weaver each tallied at least 41 minutes of playing time. The emotional strain of the Ducks' comeback was too much to overcome for the weary Cougars.

"Both team's were very tired," Bennett said. "You play those guys and you hang on. Both teams were dragging." Baynes got into foul trouble early, prompting Bennett to bring WSU guard Chris Matthews off the bench. Matthews did not disappoint during his 26 minutes of play. He scored 13 points and hit 2 of 5 treys. "We got Chris Matthews back in and he did a good job," Bennett said.

Koprivica was injured while guarding the baseline against Malik Hairston with 10:39 remaining in the first. Koprivica appeared to tweek his right leg and curled up in pain. He was assisted off the court by teammates and put no weight on the one leg. Koprivica contributed two points in just six minutes before the incident. He did not return in the second half and will receive an MRI. Bennett said Koprivica looked in the lockerroom to be expecting bad news on the knee.

COUGFAN TV:
Oregon 77, Washington State 74 in OT
Postgame interviews with Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and Tony Bennett



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