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March 18, 2009
Wazzu senior center Aron Baynes could not have finished his Cougar career any better. After inexplicably failing to receive any Pac-10 recognition last week when the all-conference awards - as voted on by the conference coaches - were released, all "Big Daddy" Baynes did was score 61 points in his last three games of his Cougar career, including 19 against Saint Mary's in Wazzu's National Invitation Tournament first round game. But Baynes' points were not enough to offset 12 first half turnovers and the Gaels' talented point guard, Patrick Mills as the second-seeded Saint Mary's fought off several second-half Cougar comeback attempts to finally win the game 68-57 in Moraga, California. With the loss, the Cougars finish their season 17-16 overall.
While Baynes led Wazzu in scoring, he was not the only player in double figures for the Cougars as senior guard Taylor Rochestie joined him with 14 points.
Baynes, averaged 21.5 points per game in the Pac-10 tournament and continued his hot play as he scored nearly half of Wazzu's first half points. But Saint Mary's opened up the game with a 7-0 run and it was not until Rochestie was able to connect on a three-ball from the corner that the Cougars were able to stem the tide. From there, it was all Baynes in the scoring column for Wazzu as he scored 10 of the next 14 points. Baynes' barrage kept the Cougars in the game because Rochestie was unable to keep up with the speed of Mills, who scored 17 first-half points for SMC. Behind Mills' outburst, the Gaels were able to build a 36-23 halftime lead. The Cougars were plagued by 12 first-half turnovers.
SMC opened up a 15-point lead early in the second half at 41-26 but a jumper from freshman guard Marcus Capers sparked a 9-2 Wazzu run that closed the gap to eight at 43-35 with 15:44 left in the game. The Cougars kept pressuring the Gaels, yet every time they got within range, SMC would put some distance on the Cougars. After Saint Mary's built a 10-point lead at 57-47 behind a personal two-possession, five-point performance from Mills, Wazzu went on a 6-0 run to close to 57-53 with 6:11 left in the game. But SMC answered with a 7-0 run of their own that essentially ended the game.
The Cougars shot 39.6% for the game and Capers fouled out near the end of the game.
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