Great 1st half but horrific 2nd dooms Cougs

JUST WHEN IT seemed Washington State had finally turned the corner on this up-and-down season, carrying the big win Thursday over Arizona State into a stellar first half at Arizona today, the bad habits reared themselves again. Poor second-half ball care and shooting, coupled with defensive lapses, turned a donnybrook of a game into a rout.

The Cougars went up 39-32 with 12 minutes left in the game and then proceeded to go into the deep freeze under wilting pressure defense by Arizona. They let Arizona fire up the tempo. They committed sloppy turnovers. They couldn't buy a basket. The stellar ball movement and patience on offense were long gone. And before you could ask "Where the heck is the composure?" the Cats had turned it into a runaway.

A 24-2 run by Arizona was the most meaningful stat to come out of this game. The final score was 66-56.

"We really got shook. We picked up our dribbles, they ate us up with the trap," said Cougar head coach Tony Bennett. "Just frustrating."

He said some of the Cougars' younger players -- and perhaps some vets too -- weren't ready for Zona's pressuring, trapping second-half defense.

Bennett said the game will be a "valuable learning experience."

The Cougars, 12-9 overall and 4-5 in Pac-10 play, now head to the Bay Area for Stanford on Thursday and Cal in a televised contest on Saturday. Arizona is 14-8 overall and 4-5 in the Pac-10.

Taylor Rochestie was the Cougars' offensive leader, scoring 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the field. He also had six assists.

Aron Baynes pulled down 14 rebounds, scored 12 points (10 in the first half) and blocked two shots. Daven Harmeling, slumping most of the season, hit three treys to score nine points. He also had six rebounds and six assists.

Klay Thompson, on fire the previous two games, got into early foul trouble and never found the range. He was 3 of 13 from the field and scored 8 points.

Jordan Hill had a huge day for the Cats, scoring 16 points and pulling down a whopping 16 rebounds. Chase Budinger, who hit just one of his first ten shots, ended up with 19 points.

NOTES:
* Harmeling's nine points are his most since scoring 13 against Montana State in December.
* Baynes recorded his fourth double-double of the season and the seventh of his career. He is averaging 10.6 rebounds per game in the last seven games (74 total).
* Rochestie played the entire game - his second in a row -- and reached 20-plus points for the second time this season.
* The Cougars have lost three-straight against the Wildcats.

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