Washington State dispatched Oregon, 78-56, Thursday night in the opening round of the Pacific 10 basketball tournament at the Forum to earn the right to play No. 1-ranked Arizona.
The Cougars may feel like sacrificial lambs for the Wildcats in today’s quarterfinal game at 3 p.m.
“I thought we played great,” WSU Coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I think Washington State is playing its best basketball. Tomorrow (today) is March 10, and in the minds of 99.9% of the people in this country, our season will end on March 10. That doesn’t matter to us.
“This team is playing as well as it can play. As far as Arizona is concerned, maybe that’s not good enough.”
But it was good enough to beat Oregon.
Forward Brian Quinnett scored 18 points, all in the first half, as the Cougars cruised past the Ducks. Quinnett left the game after picking up his fourth foul with 13:15 remaining in the second half and sat on the bench for almost 10 minutes before returning.
By the time Quinnett came back with 3:38 left, the Cougars had the game safely in hand.
Forward Brian Wright and guard Harold Wright added 14 points each for WSU.
Washington State is 10-18 overall. Oregon, which lost its last nine games, finished the season with an 8-21 record.
“I think the mental toughness has kind of gone out of us,” Oregon Coach Don Monson said. “We just don’t seem to get over the hump.”
Forward Randy Grant led the Ducks with 23 points.