Victory in Sacramento: quips, stats and more

TONY BENNETT says his troops had to "eat a lot of dirt" to get to this day. And what a day it was -- a resounding comeback win that put an exclamation point on WSU's already magical season. The Cougars have their first NCAA tournament win in 24 years. And their many critics are silenced -- at least until the tip off with Vanderbilt on Saturday

Bennett and Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton both said the Cougars' fantastic flurry at the end of the first half, in which Taylor Rochestie scored on a drive through the lane and then Kyle Weaver followed with a steal of the inbounds pass and a slam dunk, proved crucial.

The two quick buckets before the halftime buzzer narrowed ORU's lead to 28-26 and put a nitro charge into the thousands of Cougar fans in the stands.

"Obviously, we got off to a slow start, Bennett said. "When we started getting back on defense and getting them off the offensive glass, we were back in the game. The flurry at the end of the first half really helped."

Said Sutton, "I think one of the biggest keys determining the outcome was the 30 seconds prior to halftime ... We made a careless error, they steal the inbounds play and take all the momentum into halftime."

OTHER POST GAME-GAME QUOTES:

TONY BENNETT:
On Ivory Clark's performance
"Ivory stepped up. You need some balance and we shared the ball well. Ivory has helped us a lot. His ability to change the game (defensively) is a big asset ... Robbie did a good job on Green, then Ivory came across to help him."

On his team's spirit and temperament
"They're a hard-nosed group of kids. As freshmen and sophomores, they had to eat a lot of dirt. They're tough-minded and there's a fire burning within. You need that to have success at this level."

On the decision to end the double team on Caleb Green
"We were doubling him too far out on the floor. That opened up their passing lanes. It's harder to rebound when you trap the post. Robbie's long and that bothered him."

FORWARD ROBBIE COWGILL:
On sending a message to doubters
"They can say what they want to say. We'll continue to do what we do. We can compete with anyone no matter who we go against."

STAR OF THE GAME IVORY CLARK:
On coming in off the bench
"I wanted to be a spark off the bench. With Weaver out, I wanted to be more assertive"

FORWARD DAVEN HARMELING
On the team's mood before the game
"We were confident coming in, but we walk a fine line between beating anybody we play and losing to anyone, if we don't play well."

ORAL ROBERTS COACH SCOTT SUTTON
"You have to give a lot of credit to Washington State. I think they showed in the second half why they are one of the best 10 or 15 teams in America. They executed, they made shots and made it tough on us to score. You have to give them a lot of credit ... I thought they were a very, very good team. I'm disappointed we didn't win.''

On the WSU defense against Caleb Green
"I thought in the second half they did a tremendous job. They didn't really double. They sent (Ivory) Clark every time once (Green) got the ball into the paint, they sent Clark from the weak side. He had five blocks but it seemed like 10. They did a nice job. The thing is, we don't see very often, and we haven't seen it since December, is size like that. We just don't have it in our league ... It's a little bit of a disadvantage with that. Give them credit. They were an outstanding defensive team, which I thought they would be. The did a great job if making it tough on Caleb.''

NOTABLE NOTES:

* The Cougars' win was the fourth NCAA tournament victory game in school history, and improved the school's tourney record to 4-4.

* The Cougars blocked eight ORU shots -- their sixth game with over eight blocks this season.

* The Cougars are now 10-2 this season when trailing at halftime. Oral Roberts led 28-26 at intermission.

* At 26-6, the Cougs have tied WSU's 1941 team for most wins in one season. The 1941 team was the NCAA runner-up.

* This was WSU's first tourney win since beating Weber State in 1983.

* WSU won for the 14th time this season away from Pullman -- the most since a school-record 17 (all on the road) in 1916-17 when the Cougars were named national champions.

* The Cougars began the game 6-for-25 from the field, including 10 straight misses after taking their only lead of the opening stanza at 16-15 with 8:45 to play...WSU made its next nine shots (last five of the first half and first four of the second half).

* Washington State trailed 28-22 with 42.8 seconds left in the first half before a 13-0 run, capped by an Ivory Clark dunk, gave the Cougars a 35-28 lead with 17:27 to play in the game.

* Senior Ivory Clark tied a career-high and set a WSU postseason record with five blocked shots.

* Four Cougars scored in double figures, led by senior Ivory Clark's 19 points...sophomore Taylor Rochestie added 15 points and junior Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively.

* Washington State meets 6-seed Vanderbilt on Saturday at 2:40 p.m. PT.


ROBBIE COWGILL PLAYED STOUT DEFENSE AGAINST ORAL ROBERTS WITH 2 BLOCKS, 5 BOARDS PLUS 1 STEAL AND FOR GOOD MEASURE, THIS THROW-DOWN DUNK.


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