Ice cold Cougs now focus on Sunday

WASHINGTON STATE will turn its full attention to the NCAA tournament a day earlier than hoped. Looking for its second threepeat in two nights and a record-tying 26th win, the Cougars were derailed in the semi-finals of the Pac-10 tourney Friday at the Staples Center by hometown USC. The Trojans firebombed the ice-cold Cougs from beyond the arc and won going away, 70-61.

While USC (23-10) advances to the title game against Oregon, the 25-7 Cougs await Sunday's NCAA selection show at 3 pm on CBS. WSU appears in line for a 3 or 4 seed in the Sacramento sub-regional and is hosting a free event at Bohler Gym on Sunday for fans to watch the selection announcements with Cougar players.

The Trojans, losers of the previous two meetings between the teams this year, mostly dominated -- the Cougs held the lead for a collective 58 seconds on the night.

"We didn't have our A game, on offense or defense," said WSU coach Tony Bennett. "We're vulnerable when we're not playing right."

Indeed.

WSU's last lead of the game was at 10-9 early in the first half. They fell behind by as much as 11 in that period, closed within four, 38-34, at the halftime buzzer on a long, double-clutch trey by Derrick Low, and then climbed within two points early in the second half, at 43-41.

They would get no closer, shooting just 22 percent from the field in the second half to USC's 50 percent.

Low led the Cougars with 15 points, but hit only 5 of 16 field goals, and missed three consecutive three-point attempts at a critical juncture between 5:50 and 7:10 with the Cougs trailing by four and then five.

Kyle Weaver had 13 points, but like the rest of the team, was off the mark on offense, making just 4 of 11 field goal attempts. Taylor Rochestie scored 11.

Aron Baynes, the 25-point hero of WSU's double-overtime win over these Trojans last Saturday, was held to seven points and fouled out.

Gabe Pruitt led the Trojans with 26 points, nailing 6 of 7 three pointers. Taj Gibson and Loderick Stewart each had 15.

USC hit a blistering 10 of 16 attempts from three-point range (62 percent) and a whopping 24 of 33 free throws. The Cougs were 28 percent from beyond he arc (11 of 30) and 6 of 8 from the line.

With 25 wins this season, the Cougars are one shy of tying the school record set in 1941 by that season's NCAA runner-up team.

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