The second game of the opening round of the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament marked an early exit for fans and the Oregon Ducks. Washington State dominated all phases of the game from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Final score: WSU 62, Oregon 40.
Coach Tony Bennett convinced his team to play their best basketball and forget about their two wins over Oregon during the regular season.
Washington State (17-14) led the entire game after senior Aron Baynes deftly swished a jump hook from about seven feet out just 18 seconds into the first half.
Oregon (8-24) was able to hang with the Cougs until midway through the opening 20 minutes. They were able to match runs by Washington State with a few of their own.
The turning point came when freshman DeAngelo Casto put back a missed shot with a little over nine minutes left before intermission.
Casto found out what tournament play is all about just seconds after entering the game at the 14:00 mark. Duck freshman Michael Dunigan threw an elbow into the chest of Casto that knocked the wind out him. DeAngelo needed a few minutes on the sidelines to gather himself. Once back in the game, Casto was the intimidator knocking away any wind the Ducks were trying to fill their sails with.
Coach Ernie Kent tried to rattle WSU with full court pressure. That didn’t work. He tried to get the attention of his team by rotating seasoned players with those who have spent most of the year on the bench. That didn’t work.
By halftime, it was clear nothing was going to work for Oregon. They couldn’t come up with a way to slow down the juggernaut that was Washington State.
Television traditionally interviews the head coach who is leading going into the locker room. When Coach Bennett was asked a question about how it's been so easy to control game tempo against Oregon this season, the answer surprised everyone.
Well, not everyone.
Anyone who knows what a competitor Coach Bennett is knows better than to expect him to ignore how the half ended. He was incensed that his team turned the ball over and gave up an easy three-point shot to Tajuan Porter. That’s not Bennett Ball. No doubt Coach marched into the WSU locker room and reminded his players of that very thing.
The methodical way Washington State went about their work in the second half must have made Coach Kent feel as though he was having dental work done without painkillers.
It was an early exit for fans because there was never a doubt about the outcome.
The Cougars were focused and on a mission.
For one Coug, it looked personal.
Prior to the first game of the opening round, a victory for Stanford over Oregon State 62-54, Pac-10 officials honored conference players for their performance this season. Aron Baynes was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 last season. Though he improved both his stats and overall play this year, he was overlooked by the Pac-10.
Baynes is a personable, affable young man off the court. Tonight he was extremely physical and determined to send the conference a message. Had Coach Kent known Baynes was going to take out his frustration on Oregon, no doubt he would have lobbied for the big Aussie.
It should be mentioned that Baynes finished with his second 20-point game of the season and eight rebounds. Aron was a sizzling 7-for-8 from the floor and 6-for-6 from the foul line. He was credited with one block and forced a handful of missed shots by Oregon players with his towering presence.
In the midst of nearly flawless Bennett Ball, there’s one unexpected stat that is buried on the sheet. For the first time since Feb. 9, 2006, a WSU basketball team didn’t make a three-point shot. They only tried one in the entire first half.
Virtually every other statistical category was filled up with outstanding numbers for Washington State:
* 25-for-43 from the floor for 58 percent accuracy
* 12-for-14 from the free throw line for 86 percent
* Three players scoring in double figures
- Baynes 20
- Caleb Forrest 14
- Casto 10
* Four blocked shots
* 14 of the 25 buckets came off assists
* Held Oregon to 26 percent shooting for the game
* Outrebounded Oregon 37-24
* Held Oregon to their second lowest point total of the season (previous low was 38 vs. WSU)
* Taylor Rochestie rested during a game for the first time since Feb. 19, 2009 against USC
* Seven WSU freshmen saw action during this opening Pac-10 tournament game
No question the most important stat on the official sheet is the win for the Cougs.
They play the same time Thursday night.
Their opponent will be the No. 2-seeded Bruins of UCLA. These two teams have played each other very close this season. UCLA won by two points in Pullman. WSU took an overtime win from the Bruins in Westwood by a single point.
Washington State continues forward as one of the hottest teams on the West Coast.
The game tomorrow night between UCLA and Washington State promises to be a great college game.
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