No. 17 COUGARS SWEEP ASIDE ARIZONA

IT FELT a little too familiar, Arizona charging back to claim the lead in crunch time against Washington State. But there would be no last minute heartbreak for Cougar fans, not this time. This year's crimson vintage -- ranked No. 17 in the land -- responded to Zona's run with one of their own, namely, an 8-0 roundhouse, on the way to turning back the No. 20 Wildcats 72-66 on Thursday in Tucson.

The win completed the season sweep for the Cougars over the Cats, WSU having bested Arizona 77-73 in Pullman last month. It was the first time Washington State has swept UA since 1982-83, in the series that spans 29 seasons.

The Cougar gut check, with Washington State trailing 57-56 with under eight minutes to play, was spearheaded by Ivory Clark, who scored a team high 18 on 7-9 shooting along with seven rebounds. The senior forward grabbed a key board along with four points during the stretch, the final bucket coming on a jab step beauty that pushed the Cougar advantage to seven with 5:00 remaining.

Arizona wasn't done, however, cutting the WSU lead to four on two separate occasions, and to two on another. Each time the Cougars had the answer. A defensive stop by Daven Harmeling. A rebound by Aron Baynes. An emphatic, exclamation mark dunk by Clark on a heady touch pass by Kyle Weaver that seemed to sap the enthusiasm out of the crowd.

And what won't show up in the box score was Washington State staying with a deliberate pace on offense over the final 10 minutes.

After the Wildcats took the brief lead, their first since the opening half and one they would hold for all of 32 seconds, the Cougars negated Arizona's chance to find their rhythm the rest of the way.

The Cougs played and stayed within their highly effective offense -- they shot 51 percent for the game -- while playing their trademark solid team D, forcing Arizona into 10 turnovers, good for 17 Cougar points. Meanwhile, WSU limited the Cats to only three points on the five Washington State committed.

Until a 3-ball with 2:14 left, the last Arizona field goal before that had, unbelievably, come with 8:36 left to go in the game. But UA was able to stay in it down the stretch by going to the free throw line -- Arizona shuffled up to the charity stripe for 24 attempts while the Cougars went 9-for-9 from the line.

With under a minute remaining and the WSU lead now down to a single bucket, Weaver extinguished any hopes for a home team comeback when he drove the lane and kicked out to Harmeling, who calmly buried the 3-pointer that sent the Cats' fans headed for the exits. Harmeling later completed a three-point play to provide the final points.

Washington State limited the Cats to 4-19 from behind the arc, while hitting on 7 of 14 of their own treys, the final one the dagger by Harmeling.

NOTABLE NOTE:
With Nikola Koprivica out of the season (ACL), Taylor Rochestie and Chris Matthews picked up the slack. Matthews' increased minutes were expected -- but it was Rochestie with 18 minutes to Matthews' 13. Rochestie seems to be coming into his own more and more, the cat-quick guard contributing six points, three rebounds and two assists against Arizona. Aron Baynes was the other member of the eight man Cougar rotation against Arizona, pulling down five rebounds and hitting on 2-of-3 from the field in 15 minutes. Some seasoned basketball observers had thought Koprivica's absence would hurt the Cougars most on the defensive end but Rochestie and Matthews filled in ably.


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