No. 4 WSU Remains Undefeated with Win Against USC
Jan. 10, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AP) - No. 4 Washington State passed its first major test of the season most impressively Thursday night.
The Cougars will face an even bigger one Saturday.
Davin Harmeling scored a season-high 19 points, Aron Baynes had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Washington State beat Southern California 73-58 to give the unbeaten Cougars their best start in 91 years.
Taylor Rochestie added 12 points and seven assists and Derrick Low had 10 points and five assists for the Cougars (14-0, 2-0), who beat USC for just the 12th time in 53 road games.
WSU completes its visit to Los Angeles on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion against No. 5 UCLA (15-1, 3-0) in the sixth-ever Pac-10 game matching two teams ranked in the top five. The Cougars have won just once in 50 road games against the Bruins.
USC lost to No. 2 Memphis and No. 3 Kansas by four points each last month. Meanwhile, the Cougars were playing the likes of Idaho and Portland State. And none of WSU's first 13 opponents received a vote in The Associated Press Top 25 poll this week.
But it didn't matter in this game as the Cougars went ahead for good late in the first half and breezed to the victory.
WSU, the highest-ranked team in the Pac-10 for the first time, hasn't won a conference championship since 1941. The Cougars are off to their best start since the 1916-17 team won its first 15 games.
O.J. Mayo, the Pac-10's leading scorer, led USC (9-6, 0-3) with 22 points and seven rebounds. Taj Gibson and Dwight Lewis added 16 points each for the Trojans, giving those three all but four of their team's points.
Low made two 3-pointers during a 15-4 run that gave the Cougars a 45-33 lead with 12:21 remaining. Kyle Weaver, WSU's second-leading scorer, got his first four points during the spurt.
Baskets by Lowe and Rochestie made it 54-40 with 8:16 remaining, and the Trojans weren't closer than eight points after that.
USC didn't shoot a free throw until Mayo made two with 4:43 left, trimming the Cougars' lead to 58-48. The Trojans wound up going 4-of-4 from the line to Washington State's 13-of-18.
It was 64-50 before the Trojans scored six straight points to draw within eight with 2:54 to play. But Baynes dunked off a pass from Low as the shot clock wound down, USC's Daniel Hackett missed a 3-pointer, and Rochestie made two free throws with 1:52 left to put the game out of reach.
The Cougars shot just 9-for-27 in the first half, but went 7-for-12 from 3-point range in taking a 27-23 lead. Harmeling was 4-for-5 and Rochestie 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. Harmeling, a reserve forward, brought a 6.4-point scoring average into the game.
USC made its first three shots, but went 8-for-23 the remainder of the half including 1-of-4 from 3-point range.
The Cougars led 16-12 when both teams hit a dry spell, going scoreless for over 4 minutes before Harmeling made a jumper.
A basket by Mayo ended a 5 1/2-minute USC scoring drought and triggered a 9-0 run that gave the Trojans a 21-18 lead, but Harmeling responded by making three straight 3-pointers before Mayo set Gibson up for a dunk in the final seconds of the half.
Washington State freshman Stephen Sauls, who collapsed in practice Monday and was hospitalized, did not make the trip. Sauls, averaging 2.1 points in eight games, was released from a Pullman hospital Thursday.