Rochestie's leadership impresses Bennett

TAYLOR ROCHESTIE, WHOSE shooting woes earlier this season seemed to have a negative effect on his entire game, has given notice that his problems might be history. "He's played better and better," WSU coach Tony Bennett said Tuesday about the fifth-year senior guard who had significant contributions offensively, as a leader and defensively in the Cougs' 55-54 victory over Stanford last Saturday.

It was WSU's first Pac-10 Conference win following losses to Washington and California.

Taylor Rochestie followed an 8 for 14 shooting performance in the 57-50 loss to California by hitting 6 of 15 shots en route to scoring a team-high 21 points against Stanford. He also had six rebounds and four assists.

But while the numbers were impressive, what Rochestie did with five seconds to play and freshman DeAngelo Casto headed for the free-throw line might have impressed Bennett more. Casto just had blocked a Stanford shot, rebounded the ball and was fouled.

With the Friel Court fans in an emotional state over the fact Casto just had preserved WSU's one-point lead, Rochestie approached three teammates in the key area with a message.

"He said, ‘we're not losing this game … we're not losing with five seconds left,''' Bennett recalled during his weekly teleconference. "He just was real adamant. He told DeAngelo, ‘great block, just calm down, you're on the line.' Taylor knew there was a lot of game left, where there was a possession or two."

DeCasto missed the free throw but the Cougars held on to win.

"I think he's playing very well," Bennett said of Rochestie. "He played very well on both ends of the court against Stanford."

Defensively, Rochestie was largely responsible for keeping Stanford's Anthony Goods and Cal's Jerome Randle under control. Goods made just 3 of 11 shots; Randle 3 of 9.

"I thought that was significant – to take two big-time scorers in our league and really make them work to get points," Bennett said. "And then to have the mental and physical stamina to produce on the other end of the floor …

"But, you know, fifth-year senior. That's the way it is for him this year."

Meanwhile, Bennett said the four freshmen who played against California and Stanford – Casto, Klay Thompson, Abe Lodwick and Marcus Capers -- "made some strides.

"You saw DeAngelo give us a lift with some energy … with some hustle plays … a steal, a post move, a couple of major blocks … offensive rebounds. Klay got us going in the first half. He had that terrific dunk in the second half that ignited the crowd. Lodwick hit a big three pointer and almost hit another real big one. Marcus gave us some nice energy on the defensive end.

"We'll keep using them."

The Cougars are on the road this week, at Oregon State Thursday night (6 p.m., FSN) and at Oregon Saturday (11 a.m., FSN).

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