Free Throws Knock Out Cougs in OT 82-80

Mar 11, 2010, 5:09 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

At least it’s over. The 2009-10 basketball season for the WSU men is officially done with, and at this point, mercifully so. Despite a well rounded and hard fought battle in which the Cougs had a lead in the final seconds, Wazzu couldn’t hold on against Oregon Wednesday night, losing 82-80 in overtime.

Washington State was led by 20 points from Klay Thompson, who had his best game in recent memory. The All Pac-10 First Teamer was 6 of 13 from the field and 6 of 10 from three point range. Thompson made big buckets down the stretch, including two threes to cut the distant Duck lead from nine to just three at 64-61 with 5:37 remaining. Although Thompson was the hottest Coug shooter and was coming up big, the sophomore attempted just one shot, a missed 15 foot jumper with 1:35 left in overtime, in the final ten minutes of the game (regulation and overtime).

Thompson’s efforts were countered by those of 2007 Pac-10 tournament MVP Tajuan Porter. The diminutive guard went off for 32 points, a season high and one point above his 31 point performance against the Cougs earlier this season in Pullman. Porter was 12 of 28 shooting and was getting to the paint with ease for the entirety of the game. Although his usually on target long range shooting was off, Porter continually drove past his defender and hit tough shots when his team needed them.

Washington State’s lone senior also stepped up in his final game in the crimson and gray. Serbian Nikola Koprivica was scoreless for the first 35:11 of the game, but caught fire exactly when the team needed him. The sharp shooting Koprivica scored eight consecutive Cougar points from 4:49 to 3:06 left in regulation to give the Cougs a 69-68 lead, their first since their 22-21 lead with 6:49 remaining in the first half. Koprivica, who finishes his Coug career second all-time on the WSU men’s basketball wins list, capped his career with 10 points and five rebounds.

The Cougs usual nemesis, inconsistent shooting, wasn’t the reason for the loss this time. Instead it was the unguarded shot from fifteen feet away. As a team WSU was 12-25 from the “charity” stripe and they all did their part in not putting this game out of reach.

DeAngelo Casto was Shaq-esque in his free-throw performance, shooting a miserable 5 of 13. But it was senior Koprivica and freshman Moore who were a combined 1 of 4 from the free throw line in the final 1:20 of regulation. Moore was at the line with seven seconds remaining and a chance to put the lead, after hitting the front end of a 1 and 1, and missed the second, opening the door for Oregon.

Oregon coach Ernie Kent drew up a play for the guy that everyone knew would have the ball, Porter, and let his playmaker make something happen. Porter did just that.

Driving the length of the court in five seconds, Porter got to the paint with ease and lofted a high arcing lay-up that barely cleared the outstretched fingertips of Casto. The lay-in wouldn’t fall, but thanks to the attention Porter drew, Oregon forward E.J. Singler was there for the tip-in as time expired, sending the game to overtime.

Oregon got off to a quick start in overtime, jumping out to a four point 76-72 lead. But WSU quickly answered with a 6-0 run of their own. After a Casto made free throw (a miracle perhaps?) gave WSU their first lead of the extra period, Porter once again made put his stamp on the game. Porter once again drove to the paint, with ease, and made another tough jumper. WSU would answer with Moore going to the line and hitting one of his two free throw attempts, uncharacteristic of the usually sure shooting freshman, tying the game at 80.

Porter was then, for some absurd reason, fouled by Cougar guard Marcus Capers 25 feet from the basket, giving the Detroit, MI native a chance to give his team the advantage. Porter, unlike the Cougs, came up clutch at the line and sunk both, putting the ball in WSU’s hands.

Coach Bone called a timeout with 16 seconds remaining, drawing up a play to try to win the game, or at least extend it. I hope that what occurred afterwards was not what Bone drew up. After the original plan, passing to Thompson on the wing for a three point attempt, was thwarted, the Cougs all stood around, wondering what to do next. With eight seconds left in overtime Moore dribbled left, then right, called for a screen from Casto and forced a 16 foot jumper that didn’t fall.

It is a tough one to end a disappointing season on, but in all honesty, epitomized this team in many ways. Another season of experience for one of the youngest teams in the nation will help them in the long run and next year is looking very promising, despite the way this season ended.

Here’s to next year! Go Cougs!

Husky Huddle

The Sporting News did its Pac-10 awards and they were just as jacked as the conference coaches, as they picked Jerome Randle and not Quincy Pondexter as Player of the Year.

The good news for Husky fans was that Venoy Overton was selected as Defensive Player of the Year. I disagree with that call, as Seth Tarver really deserved the award. I am a huge fan of Venoy and have been since he was a sophomore at Franklin High, but Tarver was a human wrecking ball this year.

It does say a lot for UW’s prospects for next year though as the Dawgs will feature Venoy, another defensive giant in Justin Holiday, a much improved defender in Isaiah Thomas and C.J., Wilcox who Lorenzo Romar feels closes out on shooter the best on the team next to Holiday and Overton on the floor executing UW’s defensive sets.

Husky Recruiting News: Dawgs pick up two huge commits

Husky Digest is reporting that Washington have received two verbal Men’s Hoops commitments, according to excellent sources in the world of college athletics. Sorry, but I cannot give out more information than that here at this time.

ESPN did another feature on a top unsigned recruit for 2010 and the reasons for choosing each of his top-5 favorites and this time it was UW wing prospect Terrence Ross.

It was almost a reprint of the boilerplate that they published a few days a go for Terrence Jones, but Husky fans have to be excited about the prospects of landing a pair of recruits this talented.

2013 UW recruit Jabari Parker was mentioned in Rivals as having offers from Kansas, Illinois, Washington, Pittsburgh, Providence, Baylor, DePaul, Northwestern, Oregon State, Nevada, BYU and Minnesota.

Dollar and Garcia Receive Post-Season Honors

Charles Garcia, a former Washington 2009 signee who was denied admission to the UW and subsequently enrolled at Seattle U has been named Independent Player of the Year. Garcia just announced this week that he will declare for the NBA Draft and hire an agent, which if he does so will make it impossible to return to play college ball next year if he is not drafted. Head coach Cameron Dollar also picked up Independent Coach of the Year honors. Voting for both of these awards was done by the coaches and sports information directors of the seven Division I independent schools.

Zag Arop Out

Mangisto Arop’s season has ended. The AP is reporting that Gonzaga freshman will sit out the remainder of the post-season after surgery to fix a broken left foot.

More Northwest News

Former Stadium High in Tacoma wing guard Anthony Johnson scored 42 points, 36 in the 2nd half, as Montana won the Big Sky Tournament by beating #1 seed Weber State on Wednesday. Johnson, a late bloomer, went to Montana to be near his wife who is also a Grizzly basketball player. It’s a heart warming story and could be the beginning of a dream come true for the Griz in the big dance.

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Free Throws Knock Out Cougs in OT 82-80