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Cougars Back On Track Even Pac-10 Record With Win Over Beavers

Washington State breezed through the aftercare portion of its two-step recovery program Saturday, beating Oregon State 80-64 before 5,417 in the Arena.

The victory, coupled with Thursday night’s win over 17th-ranked Oregon, restored the Cougars’ self-esteem while evening their Pacific-10 Conference record at 2-2.

“I think we’re back, exactly where we wanted to be,” senior guard Isaac Fontaine surmised. “I mean, after we came off those two bad losses (to UCLA and USC), we wanted to come back and have a good weekend.

“Now we have to keep the momentum going into next weekend, against UW (Saturday at Friel Court).”

Fontaine’s jump shot remained on extended holiday - none of his 19 points Saturday came from the perimeter - so the Cougars (10-5) often deferred to junior forward Carlos Daniel, who has become a reliable option in the post.

Daniel led WSU with a career-high 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, posting his conference-leading sixth double-double of the season. Oregon State’s Terrill Woods (280 pounds) and Todd Marshall (250) weren’t nearly athletic enough to contest Daniel around the basket.

“Carlos really evolved over the summer,” said WSU coach Kevin Eastman, who in August guided a Pac-10 touring team that included Daniel and Fontaine. “He and Michael Dickerson (of Arizona) were the two best players during the tour.”

Daniel’s emergence is critical for the Cougars now that power forward Mark Hendrickson is in the NBA.

“There’s no Mark Hendrickson here, but there’s a pretty darn good Carlos Daniel,” Eastman said, “so we’ve changed our emphasis on who gets touches.”

Daniel and Fontaine outscored Oregon State 17-15 in the first half, which ended with the Cougars leading 33-15. The Beavers made just 6 of 25 field goals in the half.

After falling behind by as many as 20 points in the second half, Oregon State (4-8, 0-3) managed to get within 70-61 with 2:48 left. But Fontaine made five free throws, including two after Beavers coach Eddie Payne was assessed a technical foul for his part in a one-way conversation with referee Steve Wilson.

Had Payne and the Beavers stayed around for postgame interviews, they might have lamented their poor shooting (39.7 percent) and careless ballhandling (25 turnovers). They might also have touched on the record-setting futility of freshman point guard Carson Cunningham, whose 13 turnovers removed Charlie Neal from future Oregon State media guides. (In 1974, Neal twice committed 11 turnovers in one game.)

Cunningham wasn’t the only young Beaver to struggle. Corey Benjamin, a high-profile recruit from Fontana, Calif., played a mere 14 minutes before fouling out.

WSU’s freshmen were more productive - Beau Archibald, Blake Pengelly and Chris Crosby each scored seven points.

Archibald, a 6-7 wing from Tempe, Ariz., was again a catalyst off the bench. He didn’t shoot well, making just 3 of 8, but had five rebounds, two steals and one block in 17 minutes.

Rodrigo de la Fuente, who starts ahead of Archibald, continued his cold shooting (2 of 8) but contributed five rebounds and a team-leading six assists. De la Fuente is shooting just 40 percent on the season.

“It’s to the point I told him today, ‘You’ve got to make shots - that’s all that there is to it,”’ Eastman said. “‘And if that’s pressure on you, you officially have pressure.’

“He’s a good shooter; they’re just not going in.”

Washington St. 80, Oregon St. 64

Oregon State (4-8, 0-3) - Woods 3-5 3-4 9, S.Benjamin 2-6 0-0 5, Grady 3-8 0-0 8, C.Benjamin 3-7 0-0 6, Cunningham 4-10 0-0 12, Vaden 2-9 0-0 5, Rose 0-2 0-0 0, Petrovic 0-0 0-0 0, Knight 2-4 4-6 8, Marshall 1-2 2-2 4, Bickerstaff 3-5 1-1 7. Totals 23-58 10-13 64.

Washington State (10-5, 2-2) - Daniel 7-14 7-8 21, Johnson 2-4 0-2 4, De La Fuente 2-8 1-2 5, Fontaine 6-11 7-12 19, Jackson 1-2 0-0 3, Pengelly 2-6 1-2 7, Archibald 3-8 0-0 7, Crosby 2-6 2-2 7, Slotemaker 0-0 0-0 0, Mack 2-4 3-5 7. Totals 27-63 21-33 80.

Halftime-Washington State 33, Oregon State 15. 3-point goals-Oregon State 8-16 (Cunningham 4-5, Grady 2-5, S.Benjamin 1-1, Vaden 1-5), Washington State 5-15 (Pengelly 2-4, Jackson 1-1, Archibald 1-3, Crosby 1-4, De La Fuente 0-1, Fontaine 0-2). Fouled out-Woods, C.Benjamin. Rebounds- Oregon State 37 (Woods 8), Washington State 41 (Daniel 13). Assists-Oregon State 10 (Cunningham 5), Washington State 15 (De La Fuente 5). Total fouls-Oregon State 27, Washington State 16. Technicals-Bickerstaff, Oregon State bench. A-5,417.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color photos


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