SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)—When the shots weren’t dropping for Washington State’s Derrick Low earlier this weekend, he and roommate Daven Harmeling tried something new.
“We prayed to the Spokane Arena gods to have mercy on us when we are shooting,” Low said on Sunday, after hitting six 3-pointers to lead No. 9 Washington State to a 71-62 comeback win over Air Force in the Cougar Hispanic College Fund Challenge.
Low made 6-of-8 3 pointers and a free throw, all in the second half, to help Washington State (6-0) erase a 30-26 halftime deficit.
The arena gods weren’t so helpful to Harmeling, who finished with four points on 2-of-5 shooting and missed two free throw attempts.
“He didn’t get heard,” coach Tony Bennett joked.
Air Force (5-2) opened hot, making six of 12 3-pointers in the first half and holding a 40-37 lead with 13:42 left.
But the Cougars went on a 14-0 run while holding the Falcons scoreless for nearly 7 minutes to build a 51-40 lead. Air Force battled back to 68-62 in the closing seconds, but the Cougars won it at the free-throw line.
Taylor Rochestie had 22 points and Kyle Weaver added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for Washington State.
Low, who sat out most of the first half after two quick fouls, had made just six of 15 shots in the first two games of the tournament. But he was unstoppable in the second half as WSU won all three games in its round-robin tournament.
“When Derrick goes unconscious, that definitely helps,” said Rochestie, who made nine of 10 free throws to help hold off the Falcons.
Tim Anderson scored 15 for Air Force (5-2), which lost its second consecutive game. Evan Washington added 14.
“In the second half they showed why they are ranked so high,” Anderson said.
Drew Henke pointed to the 14-0 run as the key to the game.
“We can’t allow people to go on runs like that against us,” he said. At the same time, “we pushed a very, very good team to the limit.”
Air Force led 30-26 at halftime, thanks to 50 percent shooting while holding the Cougars to 44 percent. The numbers shifted in the second half, with WSU shooting 55 percent and Air Force 34 percent. The Cougars hit 7-of-10 from beyond the arc in the second half.
After trailing all game, a 3-pointer by Low allowed Washington State to tie the game at 37. After Washington’s 3 for Air Force, Low hit another 3-pointer to tie the game at 40 with 13:13 left.
Robbie Cowgill’s free throw gave WSU its first lead of the game at 41-40, and Low’s fourth 3-pointer of the second half extended the lead to 44-40.
Washington State built a 51-40 lead during a 14-0 run in which Air Force was held scoreless for nearly 7 minutes.
After Henke made three straight free throws to cut WSU’s lead to 51-43, Low hit a pair of 3-pointers to rebuild the lead.
The teams, best known for defensive intensity, kept scoring low in the early going. Rochestie’s 3-pointer tied the game at 11 for Washington State with 10:23 left.
Washington’s layup lifted Air Force to a 27-20 lead with 3:23 left, giving the Falcons one more point than Mississippi Valley State scored the day before in a 71-26 loss to Washington State.
Washington State, enjoying the highest ranking in team history, is now 13-0 in November under Tony Bennett, who is in his second season.