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Washington State seals another win over rival

Rochestie takes over down the stretch for the Cougars as they upend Washington, 74-64.

March 09, 2007|Bill Dwyre | Times Staff Writer

The surprise team of the conference continued to amaze and dazzle Thursday night in the Pacific Life Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center.

Washington State, for years maligned and little more than a doormat in the conference, held off a hard-charging Washington team that pretty much needed to win the tournament title to get to the NCAA tournament. The final score was 74-64, and it put the second-seeded Cougars into tonight's late semifinal.

Their opponent in that one will be USC, which won an overtime struggle against Stanford earlier in the evening. That Washington State-USC matchup will reprise last Saturday's double-overtime thriller in Pullman, won by the Cougars, 88-86.

Washington State was sparked at the end by a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard from Santa Barbara, Taylor Rochestie, who buried the Huskies with a three-point basket from the right side under heavy defensive pressure with 1 minute 40 seconds left. That gave the Cougars a 68-62 lead, and when Rochestie drove the lane a minute later and scored, and then made two free throws seconds later, he had clinched it.

Washington State, picked to finish last in the conference this season, is now a stunning 25-6 under first-year Coach Tony Bennett and is ranked No. 11 in the nation. Washington fell to 19-13 but could still earn a postseason bid to the NIT. Washington State beat its rival all three times this season.

Rochestie led all scorers with 20 points and the other Cougars guard, Derrick Low, had 15. Washington State shot 52.2% from the floor.

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