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Low, Washington State hold off Arizona State

Jan 27, 2008 - 4:21 AM By Bob Huhn PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Sixth-ranked Washington State overcame a sluggish start to edge Arizona State, 56-55, in Pac-10 Conference action on Saturday.

Derrick Low scored 18 points and Taylor Rochestie added 13 for the Cougars (17-2, 5-2 Pac-10), who remain tied for second in the conference with Stanford (16-3, 5-2), which beat California on Saturday.

With the Cougars leading 56-55, Rochestie missed a 12-footer with 8.1 seconds remaining to give the Sun Devils the final possession.

Freshman sensation James Harden, who scored 25 points in the contest, drove to the basket, while being surrounded by three Cougars defenders. Harden spun around but missed from six feet away, giving Washington State the win.

"On that last play I had the ball in my hands and drove to the basket," Harden said. "Yeah I think I was fouled. I wanted the ball and coach drew up a play for me but I couldn't come up with it. It just didn't happen tonight for us but we still have confidence."

"We got what we wanted," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek added. "We got James, who was having a terrific half, going hard to the basket. He got two feet from the basket then you guys saw what I saw."

The Cougars, who opened the season with 14 straight wins, had lost two of their last four and struggled early in the first half.

The Sun Devils forced seven turnovers and blocked four shots while the Cougars managed to hit just 3-of-10 shots from the field in the first 12 minutes, allowing Arizona State to take a 20-9 lead.

"We are very thankful and it wasn't pretty, but in a league like this we have to scrap and fight," Washington State coach Tony Bennett said. "Our kids hung in there and battled. Call it what you want but we came away with a victory."

Trailing, 29-20, with 1:48 remaining in the first half, Washington State picked up the intensity and also found some offense, closing the period with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 29-27. The spurt was capped by Daven Harmeling's reverse layup at the buzzer.

Washington State kept its offense going in the second half, opening the period by scoring the next eight points - capped by a 3-pointer by Low - to take a 38-29 bulge with 15:44 left to play.

Arizona State cut the deficit to four but Washington State scored the next six points, ending with Low's fourth 3-pointer of the half to give the Cougars a 52-42 lead with 8:11 remaining.

Low, who was coming off one of his worse games in Thursday's loss to Arizona, tied a season high with six 3-pointers on 11 attempts. The senior had scored just five points on 2-of-9 shooting against the Wildcats.

"I just wanted to keep shooting no matter how many you miss in one game, if you keep shooting they will fall eventually," Low said. "I think down the stretch it had to do with a lot of our experience. We have a lot of senior leadership and it showed at the end."

The Sun Devils (14-5, 4-3) fought back to within one at 56-55 with 1:02 remaining behind a layup by Jerren Shipp and Harden's eight-footer, which capped a 7-0 spurt.

Harden shot 10-of-18 from the field for his 10th 20-point game and fellow freshman Ty Abbott added 13 for the Sun Devils, who have lost three straight games.