Cougars Finally Learn How To Spread Wealth
In Washington State’s 78-71 victory over USC Saturday, Chris Crosby hit the pivotal 3-pointers.
Carlos Daniel and Steve Slotemaker grabbed the important rebounds.
Point guard Blake Pengelly controlled the game’s pace, never more than when he went coast-to-coast for a layup that stretched the lead to five with 2 minutes left.
Daniel and Kojo Mensah-Bonsu made the free throws, 15 of 20 in all.
And Kab Kazadi? He made the open jumper, a 17-footer that pushed the lead back to five with a minute to go.
Even Will Hutchens, who played just 1 minute, managed to make an impact in WSU’s Pac-10 Conference basketball victory, cutting to the basket for the game’s final points with 19 seconds remaining.
“We don’t have the luxury of having Ike Fontaine or Mark Hendrickson scoring 30,” said Crosby, one of five Cougars in double figures with 11 points. “We have to get everybody to contribute in order to win.”
Daniel led the Cougars with 15 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal. He also helped limit USC’s top five forwards to 18 points and 17 rebounds, although the Trojans’ propensity to fire the quick 3-pointer was another factor.
Mensah-Bonsu offset four turnovers with 14 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Pengelly and Kazadi scored 12 apiece, hitting 8 of 16 from the field, and Pengelly added a game-high six assists with only two turnovers.
Slotemaker had seven points and a career-high nine rebounds before fouling out for the sixth time in 28 games this season.
Backup guard Elias Ayuso led USC with 22 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers as the teams kept firing away from outside.
USC made 11 of 23 from behind the arc; WSU hit 8 of 18, including three in a row during the game’s pivotal sequence, an 11-2 run that gave WSU a 60-55 lead with 8:12 remaining.
Slotemaker’s straightaway 3 started the WSU flurry with 10 minutes left. Crosby followed with back-to-back 3s, and Daniel quickly added a two-handed jam off a Slotemaker assist.
The victory, witnessed by a Friel Court crowd announced at 4,242, lifted WSU to 10-18 overall and 3-14 in the Pacific-10 Conference. USC fell to 7-19 and 3-13.
After a shaky start - perhaps a hangover from Thursday night’s last-second loss to UCLA - WSU had little trouble handling USC’s press.
“The press hurt us a little bit the first three or four times,” WSU coach Kevin Eastman said, “but during a timeout I told them that if I see anyone respecting that press, whether in the eyes or in the body, I’m taking you out.”
Pengelly responded, breaking the press by himself on several occasions while playing one of his best games of the season.
“He’s becoming a leader of this team,” Crosby said. “Carlos has been the leader the last two years, but Blake realizes it’s his time to step up as a point guard.”
Crosby and Pengelly, both sophomores, have rebounded from midseason slumps, giving the Cougars a degree of hope heading into next season.
Crosby’s turnaround has been dramatic. The 6-foot-7 wing made just 15 of 62 3-pointers - 24.2 percent - during WSU’s first 13 conference games, but he has hit 12 of 23 in the four games since.
“Crosby is one of the best shooters in the Pac-10 and he made two big shots down the stretch that really hurt us,” USC coach Henry Bibby said. “The difference in the game was Crosby and Slotemaker making shots down the stretch.”
Washington St. 78, Southern Cal 71
Southern California (7-19) - Williams 0-1 0-0 0, White 1-2 2-3 4, Turner 3-8 3-4 9, Augustine 1-4 0-2 3, Johnson 7-17 0-0 17, Trepagnier 0-0 0-0 0, Spanich 2-4 5-6 11, Ayuso 5-12 7-7 22, Swillis 0-2 1-2 1, Souferian 0-0 0-0 0, Lakey 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 21-53 18-24 71.
Washington St. (10-18) - Daniel 4-8 7-10 15, Slotemaker 2-7 2-2 7, Nelson 2-2 0-0 4, Pengelly 4-9 2-3 12, Kazadi 4-7 2-2 12, Hutchens 1-1 1-2 3, Mensah-Bonsu 3-5 8-10 14, Crosby 4-9 0-0 11. Totals 78.
Halftime-Southern Cal 37, Washington St. 35. 3-Point goals- Southern Cal 11-23 (Ayuso 5-9, Johnson 3-8, Spanich 2-4, Augustine 1-1, Williams 0-1), Washington St. 8-18 (Crosby 3-5, Kazadi 2-4, Pengelly 2-6, Slotemaker 1-3). Fouled out- Washington St., Slotemaker, Mensah-Bonsu. Rebounds-Southern Cal 25 (Swillis 8), Washington St. 38 (Daniel 14). Assists- Southern Cal 7 (Johnson 3), Washington St. 14 (Pengelly 6). Total fouls-Southern Cal 22, Washington St. 21. Technicals-Southern Cal, White. A-4,242.