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Saturday, August 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WSU wins ugly, but it wins


COUGARS

Tony Bennett was happy with the win. But he wasn't happy how it happened. "It was enough to get a victory, but not enough to be where we have to be," Bennett said in the basement of Gill Coliseum after WSU's 61-57 overtime win over Oregon State. On the link you'll find how the Cougars rallied for the win with the unedited version of my game story, along with some web-only notes. We'll be back tomorrow with more. Till then ...
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Daven Harmeling hadn't hit a shot from the field since early in the second half against Idaho, six games, 12 shots and nearly a month ago.

But that didn't stop the senior from rising up and nailing a 23-footer with 1 minute, 54 seconds left in regulation, helping Washington State to rally from a nine-point, second-half deficit and earn a 61-57 overtime win over Oregon State before 5,454 at Gill Coliseum.

Harmeling's shot not only tied the game at 50, the three points proved to be last either team scored before overtime.

The two teams, ninth and 10th in the Pac-10 in scoring, combined to miss their last five shots, four of them from long range, before WSU converted 9 of 11 overtime free throws to gain the victory.

"I never lost confidence in my shot," said Harmeling, who has seen his minutes dwindle the past month. "My confidence has always been there. And my teammates have shown confidence in me."

"Every time Daven is open, he needs to shoot the 3," said Taylor Rochestie, who's pass – one of his seven assists – led to Harmeling's bucket. "The whole team trusts him, the coaches trust him."

Then Rochestie smiled.

"I wouldn't give it to him," he said, "we would start passing the ball the other way, if we didn't trust him."

It was Rochestie who came up with the big shot to defeat Stanford last Saturday, and, as time ran out in regulation Thursday night, he tried to repeat himself. But as he drove into the teeth of OSU's zone, he couldn't get a good look and his runner missed long.

The Cougars started fast in the extra period, with Aron Baynes and Caleb Forrest sandwiching two free throws apiece around a Klay Thompson layup. The Thompson bucket – WSU's lone overtime basket – came about thanks to eye contact between he and Rochestie, Thompson's back cut and Rochestie's pass to the rim. Forrest's free throws then gave WSU a 56-51 lead.

But the Cougars squandered all but a point of the edge (the last time it was five was at 58-53 after two Rochestie free throws) in the final minute.

Omari Johnson hit a 24-footer – one of eight 3-pointers in 28 attempts for the Beavers, who started 4 of 5 – to pull OSU within two before Harmeling missed the front end of a bonus opportunity.

Calvin Haynes, the super sophomore sub who led Oregon State with 19 points, had a chance to tie it with 16.3 seconds left, but missed one of two free throws after being fouled on a drive.

After Rochestie, who finished with 14 points, returned the favor on the other end with 14.3 seconds left to make it 59-57, Haynes came off a Roeland Schaftenaar screen and drove the lane again, only to have Baynes block his layup with about 8 seconds left.

"He had been getting to the rim all night against us," said Baynes, who also had a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds, despite sitting most of the first half with two fouls. "The first one he didn't even look at Schaftenaar. I knew I had to buckle down."

"Big blocked shots by Baynes, huge," WSU coach Tony Bennett said.

But it wasn't the only play the seniors made.

"I like it that Taylor and (Baynes) were probably the key players in the game," Bennett agreed. "We need our seniors to put the team on their back at certain times and just make the plays."

Forrest, another senior, grabbed the rebound, was fouled and sealed WSU's second consecutive Pac-10 win. The Cougars are 10-6 overall and 2-2 in conference after opening with losses to UW and Cal. Oregon State dropped to 6-9, 1-4.

But if you just watched the first 20 minutes, it didn't look as if WSU had a shot. Because the Cougars weren't getting any. They turned the ball over seven times in the first half – 15 for the game, including eight split between Rochestie and Thompson – and gave up six offensive rebounds – OSU finished with 10, but WSU won the rebound battle 34-30. At the half, Washington State was shooting 64.7 percent and still trailed 33-30.

The Beavers, who had eight more shots in the first half, built that lead to nine when Haynes took a backdoor pass from Daniel Deane and dunked over Thompson, making it 43-34 with 13:39 left.

Bennett took a 30-second time out, and WSU started to get more patient against the Beavers' 2-3 matchup zone. Baynes went to work inside – he had 11 points after halftime – and Thompson and Rochestie did from the outside. Finally, with 3:49 remaining, Rochestie's 3-pointer tied it at 47. And Lathen Wallace untied it with the last of his 13 points, a 3 with 2:15 left.

Setting up Harmeling's shot.

In the Beavers' last 17 possessions in regulation following Haynes' dunk, they scored just seven points, two on a Schaftenaar post move, two Haynes free throws and Wallace's 3-pointer.

The comeback had Rochestie making some grandiose plans.

"We can win in the Pac-10," he said. "It's not going to be easy, it's not going to be conventional. We have to do it by any means necessary, especially on the road.

"To go on the road and get a win is huge. ... To be down nine, I think, in the second half and to be able to make a push, knowing we can do that is going to be tremendous in the next games."

Despite the loss, first-year Oregon State coach Craig Robinson was happy with the Beavers' play. They beat WSU to most loose balls, were more active on the glass most of the night but just couldn't seal the deal.

"I was really happy with our toughness and our hardness of play," said Robinson, who will head to Washington, D.C. next week to watch his brother-in-law, Barack Obama, be sworn in as president. "Washington State is a tough group of guys and we stayed in there with them. We went toe-to-toe and battled them."

NOTES: DeAngelo Casto made his first start as a Cougar and it was a memorable one – in a bad way. The freshman picked up two fouls in 2:20 and set the rest of the half. He started the second half, had two turnovers in the first 4 minutes and never played again. ... Thanks to the WSU turnovers and their offensive rebounds, the Beavers had 11 more shots than the Cougars. But they shot just 35.3 percent from the field and 28.6 from beyond the arc. WSU was 7 of 16 (43.8 percent) from long range and was 47.5 overall. ... Oregon State mixed in a trapping 1-3-1 zone in the first half and used it to come up with four steals. The Beavers played a 2-3 zone on every possession after halftime. They ended up with 18 points off the Cougars' 15 turnovers. ... With Baynes and Casto in foul trouble, Charlie Enquist played 8 minutes in the first half, missing his only shot but grabbing a rebound and blocking a shot. ... Five freshmen played for WSU though only Capers and Thompson scored. ... After WSU jumped out to a 5-0 lead, the Cougars didn't lead again until overtime.

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• That's it for tonight. We'll look forward to reading your comments. Till tomorrow …




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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