EUGENE, Ore. – A few weeks back, Washington State senior Taylor Rochestie was clanking jump shots and turning the ball over with such frequency that some fans were openly questioning his leadership, talent and poise.
It would appear apologies are in order.
Rochestie scored a career-high 30 points, hit all 16 of his free throws, and had seven assists and just one turnover in 39 minutes Saturday in WSU’s 74-62 triumph at Oregon.
“Taylor’s really carrying us,” Washington State coach Tony Bennett said.
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The Cougars broke Pacific-10 Conference and school records by sinking all 28 free throws. Rochestie nailed 10 free throws down the stretch to hold Oregon at bay after he twice let the shot clock wind down before burying 3-pointers on consecutive WSU possessions when the
Ducks twice cut the deficit to nine points in the closing five minutes.
Ernie Kent could only admire Rochestie from afar after being kicked out of the game in the second half. The longtime Oregon coach called Rochestie “a very heady, crafty, European point guard … he has a great feel for the game.”
Rochestie grew up in Santa Barbara, Calif., but you get the picture.
Rochestie boosted his team-leading season averages to 12.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. In Pac-10 play, Rochestie is averaging 19.2 points and 4.4 assists. He has played all but six minutes in WSU’s five conference games.
The Cougars, winners of three straight after an 0-2 start in league play, improved to 11-6 overall as ninth-ranked UCLA (14-3, 4-1) comes to Pullman on Thursday.
Rochestie was able to tie Marcus Moore’s 2002 school record of 16-of-16 free-throw shooting in one game because Oregon was forced to foul in the closing minutes.
It was some of the earlier fouls and non-calls that drew the ire of Kent, who earned an automatic ejection when he drew his second technical foul with 12 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the game.
“I have been a head coach for 19 years and had four technicals total, and two were today,” Kent said. “I have never been thrown out, and that speaks for itself.”
The Pac-10 bans coaches and players from publicly criticizing officials. Kent may face sanctions after he called the officiating “unacceptable” and said one official told him he called a foul on Oregon without knowing which player committed the foul.
In addition to Rochestie, the Cougars relied heavily on senior center Aron Baynes and freshman guard Klay Thompson.
Baynes scored a season-high 19 points, tied his career high of 12 rebounds and matched his season high of three blocked shots. Thompson recorded 15 points and tied his season high of three steals before 8,261 spectators at McArthur Court.
The burly Baynes, unaware the shot clock had been reset after a rushed Rochestie 3-point attempt apparently brushed the rim, sank the first 3-pointer of his career with seven minutes to go.
“We might add that into our repertoire,” Rochestie said.
Officials reviewed videotape for several minutes before determining they had ruled correctly. Kent, watching on television, said Rochestie shot an air ball and Baynes’ shot came after the shot clock should have expired.
The last-place Ducks, who trailed 24-17 at the half after shooting a frosty 25 percent from the field, wound up at 39 percent.
Slumping Oregon scoring leader Tajuan Porter, who came off the bench for the first time this season, scored all of his 15 points in the final nine minutes to share team scoring honors with LeKendric Longmire.
Both teams started two true freshmen. Guard Marcus Capers, making his first start for Washington State, failed to score but earned praise from Bennett for his defense.