Cougar hoops: A night of trends, good and bad

TWO TRENDS ON PLANET COUG were ended Saturday when June Daugherty's CouGals knocked off Arizona in Tucson. But on the men's side of the hard court a troubling trend looks to be taking root: The Cougars' inability to match up with Arizona.

"If you don't bring your 'A' game in this league against a team like Arizona, you're going to get beat," said Cougar men's coach Tony Bennett said. "They (Arizona) were desperate. They needed that win badly."

The Wildcats, thumped Thursday by Washington, are a bubble team for the NCAA tourney. With their 65-55 win over the Cougars they're now 17-10 overall and 7-7 in Pac-10 play. Arizona has been to 23 straight March Madnesses.

"We came out and wanted to win especially against them after they took it to us in Tucson. But we're not disappointed in the season, and that's the kind of picture we're looking at right now," said WSU point guard Taylor Rochestie, who led the Cougars with 14 points. "We're looking to the next game and we're playing two teams that beat us on our home court so we have a lot to look forward to. Me personally, and I don't think the other guys feel too down, although we're gonna have to learn a lot from this loss and just move forward."

Earlier this season the ‘Cats beat the Cougs 76-64 in a contest wasn't as close as the score. On Saturday, the Wildcats jumped out to a 22-13 lead but the Cougs looked like they were up for the challenge when they reeled off nine straight points to tie it and went into intermission trailing 24-23, but with momentum on their side.

In the second half, the Cougs took the lead 35-32 on a Rochestie three-point and late went up 37-35 on a Kyle Weaver layin. And then they went in the deep freeze. The defense was porous. The offense couldn't get enough clean looks and when they did get them they mostly missed.

Four statistical categories told the tale:

* Field goal percent: Arizona 50, WSU 34
* 3-point FG percent: Arizona 57, WSU 22.7

* Points off turnovers: Arizona 17, WSU 8
* Second-chance points: Arizona 9, WSU 2

The big guns for Arizona were long range bomber Chase Budinger with 22 points and Jerryd Bayless, with 20 points -- all in the second half.

WSU, third in the conference behind UCLA and Stanford, are now 21-6 overall and 9-6 in the conference. The Cougs travel to the Bay Area this week and then conclude the regular season at home against Washington on March 8.

WASHINGTIN STATE'S WOMEN, meanwhile, rode an outstanding shooting performance to its first road victory over Arizona in more than 10 years, knocking off the Wildcats 67-54 Saturday at McKale Center. The win improved the Cougars' record to 5-22 overall and 2-14 in the Pac-10.

The victory also marked the Cougars' first conference road win since December 2006.

"The three point line was very good to us," coach Daugherty said. "When you get a consistent inside game it helps your outside game. Ebonee Coates and Heather Molzen hurt them a little bit inside and it opened up our guard play."

The Cougars hit a season-high 10 3-pointers in the first half and finished the game with 13, one off the school record. The Cougars were 13-of-29 (44.8 percent) from the 3-point line on the game.

Sophomore guard Alexa Price hit each of her first four 3-point attempts and matched her career high with 14 points in the opening period. Price finished the game with a career-best 16 points, and was one of four Cougars to score in double figures.

Junior guard Katie Appleton, freshman guard Kezia Kelly and junior forward Heather Molzen each scored 12 points. The scoring output is a career high for Kelly. Appleton also tied a career high with five assists. Junior center Ebonee Coates pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds, her fourth double-digit rebounding game of the season.

Cougfan Top Stories