LOS ANGELES -- Tony Bennett is taking Washington State where the Cougars have never been before, right into the Pac-10 tournament semifinals.
Taylor Rochestie scored 20 points, including 11 over the final 6 1/2 minutes, and Washington State (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) pulled away to a 74-64 victory over Washington on Thursday night.The Cougars' 25th win was the second most in school history, matching the 1916-17 team. Their third victory ever in Pac-10 tourney play -- and first since 1989 -- advanced them to a Friday matchup against third-seeded Southern California."This is great preparation for the NCAA Tournament," said Bennett, the first-year coach who took over after his father, Dick, retired.Derrick Low added 15 points, Robbie Cowgill 14 and Kyle Weaver 13 for Washington State (25-6), which beat its in-state rival for the fifth straight game, including three this season."It's great for the fans," Cowgill said. "It's more significant to beat a team of that quality in a tournament setting."Quincy Pondexter led the Huskies (19-12) with 15 points. He was called for traveling and tossed up an airball in the closing seconds. Jon Brockman added 13 points and eight rebounds, helping the Huskies dominate the boards 31-21, including a 15-8 edge on the offensive glass.Washington center Spencer Hawes was held to six points against Cowgill's defense.Washington State never trailed after snapping a 56-all tie with 6½ minutes remaining. The Cougars closed out the game with an 18-8 run, including hitting 13-of-16 from the line.Rochestie had seven in a row during the run that broke open a tight game."They just kept grinding, kept defending, working their stuff," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "It's hard to get them to turn the ball over."The Huskies had 14 turnovers and shot 39 percent from the floor in the second half. Washington State had eight turnovers."We fought like dogs," Weaver said. "The guards are scoring well and finding the other guys. If we can keep playing like this, we'll be all right."The teams traded scoring runs earlier in the second half, with the Cougars' 12-5 spurt giving them a 52-45 lead -- their first since early in the game. The Huskies answered with an 11-4 burst to tie the game at 56.Neither team led by more than seven points in the first half, when Washington State shot 58 percent from the floor, yet trailed 36-32 at the break. Tied at 21, the Huskies outscored the Cougars 15-11 to end the half, with Ryan Appleby hitting three 3-pointers in the spurt.