The Cougar men's team kept their momentum going toward possible post-season play with a convincing 20-point victory over Arizona State, 75-55, in Pullman - despite being without the services of injured [ankle] center Aron Baynes.
The Cougars were led in points and rebounds by junior Robbie Cowgill who tallied 16 points [and five boards] to lead four players in double figures against the Sun Devils. Derrick Low contributed 14, Daven Harmeling tossed in 13 and seldom-used Caleb Forrest chipped in 11 as Wazzu slogged through the first half with only a 37-33 lead at halftime.
But as has been the case in so many games so far this season, the Cougars came alive in the second half and shut down ASU, 38-22. The Sun Devils got 16 and 13 points, respectively, from their top two leading scorers Jeff Pendergraph and freshman Christian Polk but the stifling Wazzu defense held the Sun Devils' third-leading scorer and team catalyst – senior Serge Angounou scoreless in his 28 minutes of play.
Only 2,504 were able to make it to the game through a snowstorm that hit the area earlier in the day, but the Cougars treated those who braved the weather to another display of solid defense and with the win, place themselves in a three-way tie [with USC and California] for third place in the Pac-10 behind undefeated UCLA and Arizona, with the Wildcats coming to Beasley Coliseum for a showdown with the Cougars on Saturday.
The Cougars may also get a bump in the RPI and national rankings from the victory. WSU came into the week with a 31 RPI and two teams – Michigan State [RPI – 25] and Oregon [RPI – 28] were upset – while four ranked teams – Oregon, MSU, Marquette and Washington – were beaten tonight, possibly clearing the way for Wazzu's first foray into the Top 25 in over a decade.
The Cougars take on Arizona on Saturday, January 6 at 7pm at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman.
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