Rapid Reaction: Wash St. 69, NU 66

Here’s a quick look at Washington State‘s dramatic 69-66 overtime win over Northwestern in the NIT quarterfinals on Wednesday.

How the game was won: Washington State saved itself in overtime from what would have been an unforgettable defeat. The Cougars had a chance to win the game with 0.2 seconds left in regulation and missed two free throws. It wasn’t pretty in overtime, but Washington State outscored Northwestern 5-2 and pulled out the win. The Wildcats had two shots to tie the game in the final five seconds of overtime and both their 3-pointers were off.

Play of the game: After Northwestern tied the game with 4.2 seconds left in regulation on a goaltending call, Washington State’s Reggie Moore pushed the ball up court, drove through the lane and passed the ball to an open Abe Lodwick. Just as Lodwick caught the ball, Northwestern’s Drew Crawford ran into him from behind and knocked Lodwick hard. A foul was called with 0.2 seconds remaining. Lodwick missed the first and the second, and the game went into overtime.

Player of the game: Washington State’s Klay Thompson put his full arsenal on display in the win. He had 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block. He scored four of his team’s five points in overtime.

Unsung hero of the game: Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto originally wasn’t supposed to play on Wednesday. He had been suspended earlier in the week after being cited for marijuana possession. He was reinstated before the game after Washington State athletic director Bill Moos decided there was more to the story and would allow the “legal system to run its course.” Casto’s presence was felt. He had 11 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.

Northwestern player of the game: Michael Thompson left everything on the floor in his final college game. He scored a game-high 18 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and recorded three steals.

Key stretch: Washington State could have put Northwestern away in the first half. The Wildcats struggled throughout the first 15 minutes of the game, and Washington State capitalized. Looking for something to get them going, Wildcats coach Bill Carmody picked up a technical at 4:22 after disagreeing with a call and needed to be restrained by staff to keep him from being kicked out of the game. After that, the Wildcats were a different team. Washington State made the two technical free throws to go ahead 31-17. From there, Northwestern out-scored the Cougars 14-7 to end the half and opened the second half on a 7-0 run to tie the game.

Stat of the game: Twelve of Northwestern’s first 15 shots were 3-pointers. Washington State shot 17 the whole game.

ESPN SportsCenter highlight of the game: In the early minutes of the second half, Washington’s Klay Thompson’s had the ball and used a quick first step to blow past Northwestern’s Drew Crawford. As Thompson approached the basket from the right side, Northwestern’s David Curletti looked to help out from the left side. The two met at the rim. Thompson rose, absorbed contacted from Curletti and threw home a one-handed dunk as his momentum carried him underneath the basket. ESPN commentary Stephen Bardo said, “I’m selling posters after the game.”

What the game means: Washington State moves onto the NIT semifinals. For Northwestern, it’s the end of an up-and-down season. There were a number of positives for the Wildcats. They nearly upset top-ranked Ohio State twice. They matched a school-record with 20 wins on the season. They also reached a third consecutive NIT and made it the quarterfinals for the first time in the program’s history. On the other hand, they still have never reached the NCAA tournament, and that was their main goal this season.