PULLMAN – Even after the University of Arizona harried them into a 10-point loss almost a month ago in Tucson, the Washington State Cougars didn’t feel defeated.
Frustrated, angry and disappointed, yes. But defeated, no, despite having melted down in the second half against UA’s pressure defense.
So they returned the favor Thursday night – even down to waiting until the second half to take apart the Wildcats’ offense – and defense – en route to a surprisingly easy 69-53 Pac-10 Conference basketball win before 7,957.
“There was a level of toughness in the second half that I thought was good,” WSU coach Tony Bennett said after the Cougars limited Arizona to 8-of-23 shooting from the floor in the second half and 40.9 shooting overall. The Wildcats have shot better than 50 percent since their first run-in with the Cougars.
In the second half, the Cougars scored 43 points, hit 6 of 9 3-pointers and converted 17 of 25 shots, the last of which was Aron Baynes’ rim-rattling dunk with 54 seconds left. Though most may look at the second-half offense and place credit for the win there, Bennett looked elsewhere.