TEMPE, Ariz. -- Washington State headed back home feeling more relieved than happy.
The Cougars (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today; No. 18 AP) scored just eight points in the final 19:31 and blew a 16-point second half lead. They turned the ball over under their own basket with 1.3 seconds to go, giving Arizona State a wide-open look at the potential game-winning shot.Yet the Cougars still managed to escape with a 48-47 win Saturday night."I was like, 'What's going on? We've got to snap out of this,' " said forward Daven Harmeling, who led the Cougars with 16 points. "We've had a history of blowing games like that."But these aren't the woeful Cougars of old. Washington State (19-4, 8-3 Pac-10) earned its first sweep of Arizona and Arizona State in the desert since January 1982."We learned some lessons tonight about what we need to improve on, but it is always better to learn a lesson in a win than a loss," first-year coach Tony Bennett said. "We played very poorly in the second half, and we have a lot of things now that we're going to have to work on. We'll take this one, though, because this has been a special weekend for us with the sweep."It wasn't so special for the Sun Devils, who set a school record with their 12th straight defeat."It was a painful loss," coach Herb Sendek said. "There's no pretending it doesn't hurt, but there's a silver lining to it."Arizona State hasn't beaten a ranked team since it knocked off No. 19 Memphis 84-71 on March 20, 2003, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.Jeff Pendergraph scored 18 points and Christian Polk added 12 for Arizona State (6-16, 0-11).Washington State appeared to be on cruise control on its way to a 36-24 halftime lead. The Cougars shot 63 percent (12-for-19) from the floor in the first half and 55 percent (5-for-9) from 3-point range.Harmeling opened the second half with a four-point play -- hitting a 3-point shot, drawing a foul on Polk and making the free throw -- to give Washington State a 40-24 lead.But that's when the game inexplicably turned. The scrappy Sun Devils shut Washington State out for 11:20, using a 13-0 run to tie the game at 44-44 on Pendergraph's jumper with 2:24 to go."We can't have droughts like that again," Harmeling said.The Cougars shot 20 percent (4-of-20) from the floor after halftime and made only 1-of-6 3-point shots."I thought my second-half adjustments were key," Bennett joked.As poorly as they played, the Cougars never fell behind because Arizona State was also struggling to score, shooting only 30.8 percent (8-of-26) from the field in the second half.Robbie Cowgill's running 5-footer broke a 44-44 tie with 2:00 remaining, and Derrick Low hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to give the Cougars a 48-44 lead.It looked as if the Cougars were safe. But after Polk nailed a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left, Washington State bungled the inbounds pass.Kyle Weaver's pass hit Low and bounced back to Weaver, who was standing out of bounds. Only .6 seconds elapsed, and the Sun Devils took possession on the baseline with 1.3 seconds to go."I felt I was getting pushed out of bounds as soon as I caught the ball," Low said. "It was definitely 'Uh-oh,' because they're in a great spot, right under their basket with just enough time to put up a shot."ASU had no timeouts remaining. Bennett said he decided not to call one because he didn't want the Sun Devils to set up a play. As it turned out, they already had.The Sun Devils found Polk beyond the arc on the right wing. But his open jumper rimmed out."When he released it, I thought it was in," Harmeling said. "Just a sigh of relief when he missed. It seems like teams always hit that shot on us. We dodged a bullet tonight."