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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Tenth-ranked Stanford rolls past Cougars

PULLMAN – Head coach Sherri Murrell knew that her team would have to do the near-impossible to earn a win Tuesday night.

“You have to play a flawless game against Stanford, you really do,” she said.

And, in losing 76-56 before 490 people at Friel Court in the Pacific-10 Conference opener, Washington State University did anything but play 40 minutes of perfection.

Freshman Katie Appleton, who has led the Cougars in scoring this season and been a vast improvement at the point guard position, had difficulty keeping things under control against the No. 10 team in the nation. She committed all seven of her turnovers in 15 first-half minutes, though she went 15 more after the break without an eighth.

“Twelve first-half turnovers, that’s what hurt,” Murrell said. “We had some freshman turnovers. We were passing to people that didn’t have their hands up. It really wasn’t anything Stanford was doing to us.”

WSU led 15-11 in the first half, but Stanford went on a 10-0 run and by halftime led 40-25. The second half then started with another Stanford 10-0 run, and after two Cougars free throws the Cardinal went on an 11-0 run to take a 32-point lead.

Turnovers aside, problem No. 1 for WSU was Stanford center Brooke Smith. She proved unstoppable with a game-high 17 points, most of them on sweeping hook shots in the lane that no Cougars low-post player could successfully defend.

Last year WSU doubled Smith in the low post, but even with Stanford’s leading rebounder, Kristen Newlin, out with an injury, Smith was left alone for the most part and dominated as a result.

“They were playing behind me for the most part,” Smith said. “I came out initially thinking they were probably going to be doubling harder.

“Once I realized they weren’t doubling more, I had a chance to make my move.”

Said Cougars center Keisha Moore: “She just had an amazing hook shot. … I tried to stand straight up and it was right over me.”

The Cougars compounded their defensive problems by shooting poorly, just 32.7 percent from the floor and 6 of 22 from 3-point range.

Kate Benz led WSU with 12 points and freshman guards Appleton and Amanda DuRocher both had 11. But DuRocher, making an earlier-than-expected return after breaking her right wrist Dec. 4, was 3 of 11 from beyond the arc and 3 of 13 overall. Prior to the game, she had just two practices under her belt since the injury.

“We put some points on the scoreboard and our kids never gave up. I really like that,” Murrell said. “Stanford is a good team. They’re going to capitalize on those mistakes, and that’s where the run happened.”

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