The Casto Era is upon us!

TAYLOR ROCHESTIE came up big all night and hit the winning bucket down the stretch. But facts are facts: The DeAngelo Casto Era at Washington State is here en force following Saturday's dramatic victory over Stanford. The groundswell behind Casto has been building, slowly and steadily, for the last two months. But it burst forth Saturday, and in multi-faceted style.

Casto, a hard-working 6-8 freshman forward from Spokane, played 21 minutes of tenacious defense. He scored six points, pulled down six rebounds, nabbed one steal and blocked three shots.

The last of his of blocks sealed WSU's nailbiting victory over Stanford when he denied the Cards' Anthony Goods on a driving layup with seven seconds left.

ARON BAYNES IS ALL SMILES AFTER DRAMATIC WIN.

The last of his rebounds came off his block of Goods' shot. His second-to-last rebound, with 33 seconds left, set up Rochestie's game-winning 10-foot runner with 17 seconds on the clock. And his third-to-last rebound started the possession that got Rochestie to the foul line to put the Cougars up 53-51 with 3:03 left.

Casto, despite his youth and his role coming off the bench, had developed a bit of a fan following coming into this game. It's easy to understand why. His style is a mix of Ivory Clark's electricity, Caleb Forrest's determination and Kyle Weaver's unflappability.

Saturday against Stanford, though, Casto took matters to new heights. He wasn't perfect, but he seemed to be everywhere at once.

He helped the Cougars overcome a first half from hell to defeat Stanford, 55-54, and reclaim a season that was heading south quickly after consecutive losses to LSU, Washington and Cal.

The Cougs are now 9-6 overall and 1-2 in Pac-10 play. They'll hit the road to the Oregon schools this week.

The win over the Card (11-3) was a testament to the power of Bennett Ball and its emphasis on defense. The Cougars shot a woeful 20-something percent in the first half and went a span of more than 12 minutes without making a field goal.

And yet they trailed only 30-22 at the half.

Bennett said he told his players at halftime that sometimes they're going to have to make due with defense until they figure out how to score.

So true.

Still, given the history of second-half woes in the Cougs' six losses this season, the crimson outlook looked bleak.

But Ol' Wazzu came out on fire, outscoring the Card 12-2 to open the second half.

"We wanted to come out with energy," said Casto, noting WSU's second-half struggles this season.

KLAY THOMPSON SCORED 13.

The Cougars took their first lead since the opening minutes of the game at the 15:40 mark of the second half. Klay Thompson, courtesy of a Stanford turnover cooked up by Rochestie and Caleb Forrest, took off down court and slammed one home – getting fouled in the process.

That play put both the crowd, and the Cougar team, into overdrive. (YouTube video below.)

"At that moment it was like we had rediscovered the magic of the past two seasons," said one WSU alum afterward.

With classes resuming Monday following the holiday break, the crowd of 7,332 was infused with more students than the Cougars' game Thursday against Cal. And the energy was palpable.

"I feed off the crowd," said Casto, who last year at Ferris High was voted the AP player of the year in Washington. "Them (the students) being back is a huge part of our success tonight."

NOTABLE GAME NOTES:
• Rochestie was named the Player of the Game by the FSN broadcast team. He had 21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. His game winner was ironic. A year ago against Stanford he missed a driving layup at the buzzer and the Cougars lost.

• Thompson was the only other Cougs in double figures, with 13 points. He added 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal.

Aron Baynes was the game-leading rebounder with 9. He also had 7 points.

• Second-year freshman Abe Lodwick played a season-high 16 minutes. He had 3 points, hitting one trey in they long-distance attempts.

• Slumping senior Daven Harmeling, scoreless against Cal and Washington, played just 8 minutes against Stanford and missed all three of his shots.

• Casto's 21 minutes of PT marked a 50 percent increase from his 14-minute average coming into the game.

ROCHESTIE: COMES UP BIG VS. CARD.


Cougfan Top Stories