In a down-to-the-wire win at Haas Pavilion Thursday night, the Cougars accomplished something that hadn’t been done in more than a calendar year: beat a foe on its home court.
Another potential milestone awaits them Saturday.
If Washington State transfers its success from the East Bay to the South Bay and topples a much tougher Stanford team at 4 p.m. inside Maple Pavilion, the Cougars (11-16, 3-12) will achieve something that hasn’t happened since Tony Bennett was holding the clipboard: a road sweep.
Bennett’s final WSU team – one that featured freshman Klay Thompson and senior Aron Baynes – polished off the Oregon schools in January 2009, beating a Ducks team coached by Ernie Kent to capture the elusive road sweep.
It would be a pretty significant benchmark if Kent’s 2017-18 Cougars were able to win in Berkeley and Palo Alto within a three-day span. Not since the second-to-last year of the Kelvin Sampson era (1992-93) have the Cougars managed to pull off such a feat in the Bay Area.
But aside from the historical context, it would also signify another symbol of growth for a WSU team that would like to think it’s finally rounding into form as the regular season nears its end.
“I think it really comes down to the end of the season, you really get to see what you’re about,” said WSU forward Drick Bernstine, whose tiebreaking layup with 2 seconds remaining locked up a 78-76 win at Cal on Thursday. “The (Pac-12) tournament’s coming up, so we’ll see what happens there, but we just have to look ahead to the next game and take on Stanford and give them all we got.”
Stanford (15-13, 9-6) is still in contention for one of the Pac-12’s top four seeds – the reward for that is a first-round tournament bye.
In the last two games at Maples Pavilion, Stanford has scored 190 points and has won by a combined 51 points. In Thursday’s 94-78 takedown of Washington, senior post Reid Travis scored a career-high 33 points and hauled down nine rebounds. The Preseason Wooden Award Watch List nominee has reached double digits in every game this season, with the exception of one. On Jan. 11, the Cougars held him to six points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field.