Washington State Gives One Away to Oregon State 54-52

Lew WrightSenior Writer IFebruary 14, 2009

Washington State (13-12, 5-8) was looking for a season sweep over Oregon State (11-13, 5-8) early Saturday evening. The Beavers were blown out in the second half against Washington, so they arrived in Pullman a little shell shocked.

When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard total favored Coach Craig Robinson's Beavers 54-52, leaving the Cougs and their fans shocked.

Here's what happened.

The opening 20 minutes was all Washington State right from the opening tip off, which they won.

Just as they did Thursday night against Oregon, Coach Tony Bennett's Cougs raced out to a 10-2 lead just five minutes into the game.

Coach Robinson used a couple of time outs to slow down the onslaught by WSU and watched his squad fight back to within three at 15-12 when Sean Tarver took a turnover by freshman Mike Harthun the distance for a layup.

It was Coach Bennett's turn to settle his team down.

The rest of the half was dominated by Bennett Ball defense with some nice scoring. Washington State went to their locker room up 32-20 at intermission.

It was clear how the Cougs were shutting down the Beavers. They took away Coach Robinson's Princeton offense that can reward cutters with easy back door buckets. Or to put it another way, Oregon State usually makes a bunch of layups.

That clarity was erased by intermission.

Specifically, what happened to the Cougs' focus in the second half?

Don't look to Coach Bennett for an answer to that question. He was as fuzzy as anyone else after the game.

Two things changed to turn this contest in favor of Oregon State.

Coach Robinson asked his players to press WSU all over the court. That decision worked to perfection, as it frustrated the Cougars and kept them out of their offense.

With WSU out of sync and off balance, Oregon State began running their offense to perfection.

Full court pressure by OSU was so effective, the Cougs went nearly eight minutes without scoring a single point. 

By the time WSU was able to put a point on the board to end that drought, the score went from 42-31 in favor of the Cougs to 47-43 in favor of the visiting Beavs.

Despite lacking any rhythm on offense, Washington State managed to scratch back to within two points at 52-50 OSU. On top of that they had the ball after a errant Beaver shot.

With the crowd roaring their approval of the way things were going, they were stunned into silence when senior Taylor Rochestie missed a runner that would have tied the score with nine seconds left in regulation.

Lanky Roland Shaftenaar topped off his outstanding performance in the second half with a couple of free throws. OSU let the Cougs inbound the ball to Rochestie, who made a layup for the final score, 54-52.

With the win, Oregon State has now caught WSU in the Pac-10 standings. They are learning both the system of Coach Robinson and how to be successful in conference play.

Nearly lost in the disappointment of this defeat was another outstanding game turned in by two of WSU's young guns.

Klay Thompson led all scorers with a game high 20 points. Nice follow-up to his 25 point performance a couple of nights earlier against the Ducks.

The other young gun who made an impact on the game was DeAngelo Casto. Casto is a rebounding, shot blocking machine. Once he improves on catching the ball, his offense will match the rest of his outstanding skills.

Any hopes WSU has of earning an invitation to play in the NIT hinge on winning out from here and making a good showing in the Pac-10 tournament.

With focus, that goal is within reach.