Arrow-right Camera
Sports

Arizona Sets Trap On WSU Cougars Can’t Handle The Pressure, Fall 87-78

The lasting impression from Thursday night’s basketball game at Friel Court was of a flustered Washington State point guard Blake Pengelly, trapped between halfcourt and the 3-point line, pivoting helplessly as Arizona defenders moved in to collect another turnover.

Tenth-ranked Arizona exposed the Cougars’ ballhandling deficiencies, forcing 22 turnovers in an 87-78 victory that moved the Wildcats into a first-place tie with UCLA atop the Pacific-10 Conference.

WSU (10-9, 2-6) lost for the fourth straight time, the only consolation being a Saturday afternoon date with Arizona State.

“We may have to go to something I’ve never gone to, and that’s to take a guy out as soon as he turns it over,” WSU coach Kevin Eastman said. “If that creates pressure, well, this is college basketball.

“We may have to resort to that; we’re just way too careless.”

That would be in addition to being way too slow, especially when compared to an Arizona (13-4, 6-2) squad that is probably quicker than any team in the Pac-10.

And turnovers weren’t the only product of Arizona’s frenzy. The Wildcats also pulled down 20 offensive rebounds, becoming the the third straight WSU opponent to get at least that many. California and Stanford grabbed 21 apiece.

“It was all based on quickness,” Eastman said. “Nobody can really rebound well when you have to play help defense most of the game.

“And then, we just don’t have anybody who can stop Mike Dickerson.”

Does any Pac-10 team?

The 6-foot-5 junior wing from Federal Way High School played what Arizona coach Lute Olson called “his best game in a Wildcat uniform,” scoring 28 points on 11-for-20 shooting.

Marveled Eastman: “There were times where he just took the game flat-out over, more than any one player since I’ve been here, except for maybe Damon Stoudamire in that overtime game here (a 114-111 Arizona win two seasons ago).”

When WSU cut Arizona’s lead to 43-38 on the first play of the second half, Dickerson answered with two straight baskets that sparked a 15-4 run. He also forced WSU guard Isaac Fontaine into some tough shots, although he couldn’t keep most of them from going in.

Fontaine made 9 of 13 field goals to finish with 32 points, at one point prompting Olson to make an unusual request.

“I was limping and Lute told me to take myself out,” Fontaine remembered, laughing at the thought. “I was like, ‘Nah.”’

Fontaine entertained the 6,866 in attendance, as well as a regional television audience, with a couple of amazing displays. He twice converted three-point plays after making improbable bank shots, each one released a moment before his feet returned to the floor.

But the Wildcats were never without an answer.

After Arizona’s 15-4 burst, the Cougars had one more shot at climbing back into the game. They pulled within 73-61 with 9 minutes left, but their hopes vanished when Beau Archibald missed two free throws and Arizona point guard Mike Bibby followed with a 3-pointer.

Arizona’s lead was suddenly back to 15, at 76-61, and the Wildcats had virtually secured their 23rd straight win over WSU.

Fontaine and Carlos Daniel were once again the only real scoring threats for WSU, although freshman Chris Crosby hit three 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 11 points.

Fontaine’s 32 points were a season high. Daniel added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and also tied his own Friel Court record with five blocked shots.

“They’re a good team - they’re not No. 10 for (nothing),” Daniel said.

Arizona 87, Washington St. 78

Arizona (13-4, 6-2) - Dickerson 11-20 4-5 28, Davison 3-8 4-4 10, Bramlett 4-6 0-0 8, Terry 3-7 2-2 9, Bibby 4-12 2-3 11, Harris 4-7 0-0 8, Edgerson 0-1 2-4 2, Simon 2-9 7-10 11, Lee 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 31-72 21-28 87.

Washington St. (10-9, 2-6) - Daniel 6-10 5-6 17, De La Fuente 2-10 1-3 5, Johnson 3-6 0-2 6, Fontaine 9-13 12-13 32, Jackson 0-2 0-0 0, Pengelly 0-3 1-2 1, Archibald 1-4 0-2 2, Crosby 4-8 0-0 11, Slotemaker 0-1 2-2 2, Mack 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 26-59 21-31 78.

Halftime-Arizona 43, Washington St. 37. 3-Point goals- Arizona 4-16 (Dickerson 2-6, Bibby 1-2, Terry 1-5, Simon 0-3), Washington St. 5-18 (Crosby 3-6, Fontaine 2-4, Pengelly 0-1, Archibald 0-1, Slotemaker 0-1, Daniel 0-1, De La Fuente 0-2, Jackson 0-2). Fouled out-None. Rebounds- Arizona 46 (Bramlett 7), Washington St. 38 (Daniel 10). Assists-Arizona 17 (Bibby 7), Washington St. 13 (Pengelly 4). Total fouls-Arizona 26, Washington St. 22. A-6,866.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review's sports newsletter

Get the day's top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!