COUGFAN TV Clark fuels dream, slays nightmare

PULLMAN -- Late at night, when the Palouse hills are nothing but quiet and cold, WSU senior Ivory Clark lies awake. His thoughts alternate -- a nightmare featuring Anthony Goods and a dream where WSU earns its first-ever conference hoops crown. Thursday, in the Cougs' 58-45 triumph over No. 25 Stanford, Clark fueled the dream and vanquished the nightmare. CLICK HERE FOR STORY and VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS.

The 6-6 forward from New Orleans had a game for the ages, collecting five of the Cougars' school-record 12 blocked shots, while pulling down 10 rebounds and scoring 11 points. It was his first double-double in crimson. He also held prime Stanford offensive weapon, Lawrence Hill, scoreless.

The No. 14-ranked Cougars are now 20-4 on the season -- the first time a WSU team has hit the 20-win mark since the days of Mark Hendrickson and Ike Fontaine in 1994.

"I was so proud of our defense," WSU head coach Tony Bennett said. "We knew it would be a real physical game. I don't know if it was our best but it was one of our better outings on the defensive end."

In the Cougars' heartbreaking 71-68 overtime loss to Stanford last month, Hill ran amuck for 16 points and nine rebounds. On this night, he never found the net once -- and Stanford shot just 28 percent from the field.

"I don't remember Lawrence Hill scoring on me so I think this is my best game overall," Ivory Clark said with a chuckle. Indeed, Hill was 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-5 from the line.

The Cougars also held Anthony Goods to just 11 points on 3-11 shooting. Goods did serious damage for the Cardinal in the last meeting between these teams, scoring 30 and hitting the game winner, a 3-point shot over Clark, at the overtime buzzer.

"I still have memories of Goods hitting that shot and I didn't want that to even come close to happening this time," Clark said. "My teammates did a great job on Goods."

The Cougars overturned a rocky start with a 14-1 run that gave them a 22-20 lead at intermission. An 8-point run to begin the second half put them in control.

The Cougs held the Card 24-points under their season average and limited them to just eight points in a 19-minute span that covered the end of the first half and the start of the second.

"For us to respond like this," said Bennett, referring to the Cougars' horrible, yet victorious effort, at Arizona State last weekend, "even after a slow start, was a good sign."

The Cougars, now in sole possession of second place in the Pac-10 standings, remain just one game back of UCLA for the top spot in the conference. The win also gives the Cougars a one-game cushion over third-place Oregon and USC.

With just six games remaining on the schedule, some Cougars are finding it difficult not to start looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel. And thoughts of a conference championship and an NCAA tournament berth -- something West Coast media deemed nigh impossible at season's outset when they picked Wazzu to finish dead last in the 10-team conference -- are now suddenly well within reason. It's safe to say the team is getting that itch.

"I think about it every night," Clark said. "I think about the remaining schedule and the team's we have in front of us. (The Pac-10 title) is very realistic for us."

Bennett, though, is sticking to his season-long mantra of one-game-at-a-time. He said the Cougars must look forward Saturday's meeting with California before entertaining thoughts about the postseason.

"Every game we play is so significant," Bennett said. "We're in a pretty good race right now. And after that, I don't know what it takes to get into the NCAA tournament. I hope we bust that door open."

In the past few games, the Cougars have been using perimeter shots as the weapon of choice. But the Cardinal guarded the arc and did not allow Derrick Low to freely roll off screens. The Cougs attempted only nine from beyond the arc and hit just three treys on the night -- two by Low, who finished with 12 points, and one by Daven Harmeling on his lone 3-point attempt late in the game.

In the loss at Stanford a month ago, the Cougars were out muscled. This time, the Cougars went right at Stanford's strength in the paint. Kyle Weaver drove to the basket all night. At least six of his 12 points were reverse lay-ups. Clark and Robbie Cowgill were a force down low, as Cowgill almost joined Clark in the double-double category with 10 points and nine boards. In all, four Cougars scored in double figures.

"It was going to be physical and I think the tone was set early," Bennett said. "I believe this is the sort of game Trent (Johnson) expected and I expected and we prepared our kids for."

COUGFAN TV:
Washington State 58, Stanford 45


-- Highlights
-- Coach Bennett & Cougar Players postgame inteviews
(CF.C subscription required for video)

Editor's Note: As we continue the launch of our our TV arm, still a work in progress, Cougfan.com in alliance with the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication's Cable 8 Productions presents video highlights of win No. 20 for the Cougars. As we go forward, our goal is to be able to bring you more video, more highlights, more Cougs. To view the video requires a subscription, which you can take out for a free 7-day test drive. You can become a subscriber in one of three ways -- monthly, 6 months or annual. Click on the 7-day free trial button at the top of the page for the various options -- with the full-year Total Access Pass the most attractive in terms of price and perks.

NOTABLE NOTES:

Stanford was 1-for-19 from the field, 2-for-6 from the foul line and committed 10 turnovers from the 11:27 mark of the first half until Taj Finger's tip-in with 12:56 remaining in the game.

Weaver tied his career high with six steals and became the first player in Cougar history to have 100 steals (102) and 60 blocks (61) in his career.

The Cougars broke out new uniforms on Thursday. They're just like their standard home outfits, but the front is emblazoned "Cougars" rather than "Washington State."

Saturday's game vs. Cal will not be televised, but COUGFAN TV will bring you video highlights and post game reaction following the game. The Bears lost Thursday night at Washington.

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