The Cougars will move on to the NIT semifinals after a 69-66 overtime win against Northwestern at Friel Court, Wednesday. The Cougars had a chance to close the game out in regulation after Abe Lodwick was fouled with 0.2 seconds on the clock. Though he missed both shots, the Cougars rallied in overtime, outscoring the Wildcats 5-2, four of which came from Klay Thompson.
Play of the Game: Posterized. Three minutes into the second half the Cougars were down 39-41 when Thompson got the ball on the wing with the whole right side of the court isolated. Thompson's quick first step gave him the edge past his defender. After turning the corner and driving the baseline, Northwestern's Davide Curletti slid over late and jumped for the block. Thompson took no mercy on Curletti as he elevated and put down a one handed dunk as the whistle blew for the and-one call. Thompson buried the free throw to finish off the 3-point play and give the Cougars the lead. The play was good enough to get fans on their feet and good enough for the number one spot on Sportscenter's top-10.
Player of the Game: Klay Thompson. For the second game in a row, Thompson played a major role in the team's win despite poor shooting numbers. The junior was 6-of-18 from the floor and 0-for-5 behind the 3-point line but finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists, leading the Cougars in each of the three categories. Thompson played a big role in the overtime period, where he grabbed two rebounds and scored four of the team's five points.
Turning Point of the Game: Extra Time. After the team missed the chance to finish off the Wildcats at the end of regulation, the team and the fans appeared to be in shock. Both took the time to regroup before the overtime tip. The Cougars took a while to score their first basket, which came after a minute and a half of overtime action. Getting on the board first, combined with some huge defensive stops, gave WSU and its fans momentum and energy which helped them close out the final minutes of basketball at Friel Court this season.
Stat of the Game: Get low. WSU finished with 34 points in the paint tonight compared to Northwestern's 20. The Cougars found most of their success when they were able to get the ball inside for high percentage shots. The impressive part was that they were able to get close to the rim in a variety of ways. For the majority of the first half the team spread the floor and was able to make entry passes to the post players, while the second half consisted of penetration off the dribble.
The Cougars will take on the Wichita State Shockers at Madison Square Garden in New York, Tuesday March 29. The game is slated for 4 p.m. PT start and will be aired on ESPN2. The winner will get either Alabama or Colorado in the championship game Thursday.
Until Next Time...Go Cougs!