PULLMAN, Wash. (AP)—Washington State won a game of attrition.
Robbie Cowgill scored a career high 18 points and added 11 rebounds, and No. 20 Washington State wore down Oregon State 70-55 on Thursday night in the Cougars’ first home game as a ranked team in 57 years.
Both teams had trouble scoring and holding onto the ball in a game that featured 37 fouls.
“It’s always kind of a battle with them,” Cowgill said.
Cowgill’s quickness also got Oregon State leading scorer Sasa Cuic in foul trouble, and he picked up his fourth with 8 minutes left in the game and fouled out with 2 minutes to go.
“When they leave you’re sore and tired,” Cowgill said. “It’s a grind-out game always when we play them.”
Kyle Weaver scored 12 points and Ivory Clark added 11 for Washington State (17-3, 6-2 Pac-10), which remained among the league leaders.
Cuic had 17 points and Marcel Jones added 14 for Oregon State (9-12, 1-7), but the Beavers were doomed by shooting 6-for-19 from the foul line.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Cuic, who missed all five of his free throw attempts.
“It’s just killing us right now,” added Josh Tarver, who scored 11 points.
Oregon State normally shoots 63 percent from the line. Washington State made 22 of 30 free throws.
“I guess all of those fouls paid off,” Weaver said of the 16 called on the Cougars.
Oregon State was also hurt by 36 percent shooting from the floor and had nine shots blocked by the best defense in the Pacific-10.
“I told our guys after the game, ‘Welcome to the best league in America,”’ Washington State coach Tony Bennett said.
“This is a league with so much depth that every night is a battle,” Bennett said. “A fine line separates a team like that from us.”
After a lethargic first half in which Washington State led 30-23, the tempo picked up in the second. Oregon State closed to 32-30 early, but the Cougars scored seven in a row.
After Tarver’s 3-pointer brought Oregon State within 41-37, Derrick Low scored five straight points for a 46-37 WSU lead.
Cuic picked up his fourth foul with 8:39 left in the game and Washington State leading 52-44. After he hit a 3, Washington State scored eight straight— four by Cowgill—for a 60-47 lead with 5:25 left.
Jones sank a 3 and Tarver added a basket as Oregon State closed to 62-55 with 3:23 left. Cuic fouled out with 2:12 left and Washington State leading 66-55 and the Beavers did not threaten again.
“Tonight we got off to a slow start. We definitely can’t do that against a team like Oregon,” Weaver said, referring to Saturday’s opponent.
The last time Washington State played a home game while ranked in The AP Top 25 was on Feb. 7, 1950. The Cougars were ranked No. 17 and beat Oregon 64-48. Three days later, they lost to Idaho, 51-50, at home.
The Cougars were ranked briefly in 1983 and for a week earlier this season, but played only road games before falling out of the poll.
The win guaranteed the first winning season for Washington State since 1995-96.
“It’s a good feeling to know we can win a game when we are not playing our best,” Weaver said.
Oregon State fell to 0-6 against ranked teams this season.