for this game

Washington State buries Winthrop in second half

Mar 21, 2008 - 3:41 AM
DENVER (Ticker) -- Washington State made sure it didn't become another first-round victim to upset specialist Winthrop.

Aron Baynes had 10 of his 19 points in the first half to lead a balanced attack as the fourth-seeded Cougars coasted to a 71-40 victory over the No. 13 seed Eagles on Thursday in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament.

Kyle Weaver collected 14 points and seven rebounds and Robbie Cowgill also scored 14 for Washington State (25-8), which shot a sizzling 59 percent (29-of-49) from the field.

The Cougars will meet No. 5 Notre Dame in Saturday's second-round matchup.

With the contest tied at 29-29 at halftime, Washington State wasted little time putting this one away by using a 9-0 run to open up the final half.

"You know, coach got on us a little bit, but rightfully so," Cowgill said about the second half. "We didn't really play well at all in the first half. You know, offensively I thought we were all right. But defensively, it's just kind of a lackluster effort really."

"We're going to try not to give (them) the easy baskets," Washington State coach Tony Bennett said. "They're going to have to earn everything. No second-chance points, no easy breakdowns on cross screens, no stuff all the ball screens. When we did that, they got a little cold, our offense caught fire."

Taj McCullough's dunk finally ended Winthrop's 7 1/2 minute scoring drought in the second half, but it wasn't enough to cool off the red-hot shooting of the Cougars.

"We got frustrated," Eagles coach Randy Peele said. "What happened is, you know, sometimes when you have teams, and we've got a lot of new guys, when you struggle to score, it shows up on your ability to defend. And it showed up for us tonight, especially in the second half."

After trading baskets, Washington State's offense continued to pile points on the board as Derrick Low drilled two 3-pointers during an impressive 14-0 burst to extend the lead to 54-33 with 7:39 left.

"We made it real hard for them," said Low, who had 11 points. "I thought we got a lot of stops. I don't think we gave them any easy baskets. We also did an excellent job on the boards and gave them only one shot and that was it."

"It was very frustrating. I can't remember who I told this (Wednesday)," said Winthrop guard Chris Gaynor, who scored 15 points. "But it felt like the Davidson game. You know, we played good defense, in my eyes, except for the second half, they hit everything they put up. We come down on our end, we get great looks. It's rimming in and out. That starts to wear on you."

The Cougars shot a blistering 65 percent (17-of-26) after the break en route to holding a commanding 42-11 advantage.

McCullough had 15 of his 17 points before the intermission for Winthrop (22-12), which shocked Notre Dame as an 11th seed in last year's NCAA Tournament.

"I think we kind of got out of what we were doing in the first half, like spacing out and getting some back screens and ball screens to put him in situations that we did in the first half," said McCullough, who had eight rebounds. "We just got away from it in the second half."