Tony turns loose the trey brigade

PULLMAN – The college three-point line moved out a foot this season -- to 20 feet, 9 inches -- but you'd never know from watching the Cougars Friday night in their 76-55 win over Sacramento State. With senior Taylor Rochestie and freshman Klay Thompson leading the way, the Cougs drained 15 of 29 shots from downtown.

The last time WSU approached that level long-distance productivity was in 2002 in a 110-104 overtime loss to Gonzaga.

Klay Thompson and Taylor Rochestie each had five from three- point land, while Daven Harmeling added three. Nikola Koprivica and Abe Lodwick each notched one.

"These guys were hot tonight, so I was more than happy to sit back and just watch the shots go through the net," center Aron Baynes said.


The big man still contributed 13 points. But he did not attempt a three. For the record, Baynes has attempted two three-point shots in his career. And missed both.

Head Coach Tony Bennett said that Sacramento State was so focused on shutting down the Cougars' inside game, that the outside shots were open.

He doesn't always want to see such reliance on the three ball, but didn't seem to mind on this night.

"If you are shooting the ball well, you take those in rhythm," he said. "I think we did the right thing,"

Baynes agreed.

"If teams want to play us like that I think we have the pieces to be able to punish them from the outside."

Rochestie totaled 17 points and added 10 assists his first career double-double. He credited Thompson, Harmeling and Baynes for those gaudy numbers.
"These guys made me look real good as far as assists are concerned," he said." We had a hot night shooting."

In practice this week, Bennett challenged Rochestie to take it to the next level.

" I challenged him to be assertive," Bennett said. "Take what the defense gives you."

Asked if he was surprised at how open some of the three-point shots were, Harmeling summed it up succinctly.


Thompson, who finished with 17 points, was just as up front when asked about his shooting, saying that when his feet are set and he has open look from downtown he expects to connect 80 percent of the time.


One part of the game where the Cougs didn't excel was rebounding. At halftime tonight, the Cougars were out rebounded by 9-17. For the full game, they had a 26-25 edge.

"That's an area that we are going to be challenged all year in, and we just have to try and improve as a unit," said Bennett.


Freshman guard Mike Harthun played the last five minutes of the game. Bennett had previously said that Harthun would likely redshirt this season. "He's crafty with the ball, and that's valuable experience for him," Bennett said of the 6-foot-3 guard from Medford, Ore.

Bennett said that Harthun has stood out in practice against the starters.

"He'll sometimes drive our first-team nuts, sticking threes in their faces," Bennett said.

And while Bennett is still planning on redshirting freshman forward James Watson, he said that could always change.

"All hands on deck," is the motto of the year, he said.

NEXT UP: The Cougars, now 3-0, are back in action Tuesday at Friel Court against the Golden Griffins of Canisius. Tip off is at 7 pm. WSU and Canisius met in the quarterfinals of the 1995 NIT, with the Griffins prevailing 99-80. The Cougs will make their first road appearance on Nov. 28, against Mississippi State, in the Legends Classic in Newark, NJ.

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