Stingy Dawgs take advantage

The Cougars wanted to be gracious hosts, but not like this. Washington capitalized on 22 Washington State turnovers for points, leading the Dawgs to a 68-55 win on the road in Pullman Saturday, the 258th meeting between the two schools in the basketball equivalent of the Apple Cup.

The Cougar crowd of 8,633 - the largest WSU home crowd in eight years - was ready from the get-go with chants designed to throw the Huskies off-balance as much as possible. But it was Washington State who ended up playing the sloppiest ball of the bunch. The 22 miscues by WSU was a season-high.

"When your two seniors (Thomas Kelati and Jeff Varem) combine for 12 turnovers, you know it's going to be a long night," Cougars' Head Coach Dick Bennett said. "The setting was just right and the only ones that rose to the occasion were the guys in purple.

"We were simply no match for them from start to finish."

"Thomas Kelati and Jeff Varem didn't quite get into a rhythm, and those guys are such threats that when they get it going they are very difficult to deal with them," said Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar. "Will Conroy, Mike Jensen and Hakeem Rollins did a great job of concentrating on those guys to limit their productivity.

"We felt like we were able to come out defensively and apply our pressure and maybe that had an effect on the game."

Washington (21-4, 11-3) took a 34-17 halftime lead, based mostly on the Huskies trying to pound it inside as much as possible and Washington State's inability to hold onto the basketball. The Cougars' 12 first-half turnovers led to 12 UW points. Defensively, the Huskies started off slow, but after the second television timeout at 11:54, they clamped down, going on an extended 21-6 run to end the period on a high note, with 12 of the 21 points coming from Jamaal Williams - who score the first five of the run - and Jensen, who scored the last five for UW.

The Washington player that benefitted most from WSU's generosity was guard Tre Simmons. In a bit of a shooting funk, the senior from Garfield snapped out of it in a big way, scoring 11 of his game-high 16 points in the second half, including three bombs from deep that put the contest out of reach. Tre also led the team in rebounds with five. Jensen - who also bounced back from subpar performances at Oregon and Oregon State - added 13 points and Brandon Roy scored 11 more.

"It's definitely a relief," Simmons said, who admitted to really struggling from outside of late. "It's a weird thing. I don't know why I wasn't making shots. You try to always work on the same things. I just kept shooting."

Washington State (5-9, 10-13) was led by Kyle Weaver, who had 15 points. Kelati and Varem added 11 each in a losing effort.

The Dawgs upped their lead in the second half with more stingy defense and clutch shooting by Simmons. The 68-42 margin with four minutes left was the largest Washington would enjoy all evening. Shortly thereafter, Romar emptied his bench and the Cougars scored the final 13 points of the game.

In a bit of a rarity on the road, the Huskies were also out-fouled by the Cougars in both halves.

"For our guys to go out and do what we did today had our coaching staff very excited," said Romar

Points: Simmons 16, Jensen 13, Roy 11, Williams 8, Robinson 7, Jones 6, Conroy 4, Smith 3
Rebounds: Simmons 5, Jensen 4, Conroy 4, Smith 4, Roy 3, Jones 2, Robinson 2, Williams 2, Rollins 1, Fletcher 1, Gasser 1
Assists: Conroy 9, Robinson 6, Roy 2, Jones 1, Jensen 1, Williams 1
Steals: Jensen 2, Robinson 1, Conroy 1, Smith 1, Roy 1, Williams 1
Blocks: Jones 2, Robinson 1, Rollins 1 Top Stories