Five days later, WSU lost by a point to Washington and ended 14-4 in Pac-10 play -- one game behind the Bruins. The Cougs made it to the second-round of the NCAA tournament before losing a tight one to Virginia and their three-time national player of the year, Ralph Sampson. WSU concluded the year at 22-6.
THREE YEARS EARLIER, IN 1980, another packed house cheered on Don Collins, Stu House, Bryan Rison and Terry Kelly to WSU's first victory over UCLA in 14 years -- since the days of Jim McKean way back in 1966.
The win helped WSU earn its first NCAA tournament trip since 1941. The Cougs, who finished the year 22-6 overall and 14-4 in Pac-10 play, were upset in the first round by Penn, and the Larry Brown-coached Bruins ended up advancing to the national title game, losing to Louisville.
The season before that, 1979, the Cougars had 17 wins with three games left and the No. 1-ranked team in the country coming to Pullman. In an age when the NCAA tourney field was limited to 40 teams and NIT invitations were dominated by the East, the Cougs were a longshot for the post-season and needed to finish strong to have a chance. Led by James Donaldson in the post and Don Collins on the wing, the Cougs waged a titanic battle with the Bruins before falling in a wild, triple overtime affair, 110-102. WSU wound up the season at 18-9.
TWO UNIQUE COUGS: HASKINS (34) AND MONSON (14).
IT TAKES A LOT TO fuel a 6-foot-10 frame. To call WSU post-man Robbie Cowgill a bottomless pit is no exaggeration. He eats 7,000 calories a day and still can't sneak past 210 pounds. The latest edition of Washington State Magazine, a beautifully styled and well-written publication extolling the virtues of Ol' Wazzu, devotes a page to Cowgill's daily intake. We won't go into all the details, but here's just a snippet of what he consumes in the typical day: five baked potatoes with the works; a whole pizza; a tray of cinnamon rolls; and a steak. And that's not even the half of it!
KUDOS TO COUGAR coach Tony Bennett last week for cutting off the incessant speculation that the first-year wunderkind will be bolting Pullman for a more lucrative job at season's end. "I'm not really going to comment any more," Bennett said when asked the same old question during a conference call with reporters. "This is a good program. I'm very comfortable where we are at and focused on what is in front of us. I enjoy it here."
THURSDAY'S GAME IS sold out and so is Saturday's contest with USC. But through the magic of network executives who actually did the right thing, both games will be televised live. Thursday's game tips off at 7:30 pm Pacific on FoxSportsNet and Saturday's game, also on Fox, gets going at 4 pm PT.