Washington St. Wins A Wild One

Washington St.'s Deangelo Casto blocks the shot by Northwestern's John Shurna that was ruled goaltending late in regulation in the Cougars' 69-66 win in overtime over the Wildcats in the NIT Tournament quarterfinals in Pullman, WA. (AP Photo)

Final Score: Washington St. 69 Northwestern 66 (OT)

Washington St. won a wild one, defeating Northwestern 69-66 in overtime tonight in Pullman in the NIT Quarterfinals. The victory sends the Cougars to New York, where they will face Wichita st. Tuesday night at 6 PM PDT in Madison Square Garden.

Cougar nation was buoyed when DeAngelo Casto, who was suspended Tuesday after police allegedly found marijuana in his apartment at 1:20 in the morning after Washington's St.'s win over Oklahoma St. was reinstated by Athletic Director Bill Moos. After Casto, with counsel, pleaded innocent to charges, Moos announced that "New information" had come to light, and lifted the suspension.

Casto delivered, scoring 11 points, pulling down 8 rebounds, and also coming up with a couple of blocked shots, including one in the overtime period. Casto was one of five Cougars who finished in double figures.

Washington St. led much of both halves of the game, but Northwestern wouldn't go away, and the game came down to the final seconds. Reggie Moore could have given the Cougars a three point lead with 17 seconds left, but made only one of two free throws.

The Cougars blocked a shot by Michael Thompson, no relation to Washington St.'s Klay Thompson, but Casto's block on Josh Shurna at the rim with under 5 seconds left was ruled to be goaltending, and the score was tied at 64 apiece.

Moore fed Abe Lodwick, who drew a foul by Drew Crawford with .2 seconds left, but had to stand by for a couple of minutes while the officials checked replay to confirm (correctly) that the foul came before time expired, and how much time was left. The delay iced Lodwick, who missed both free throws, either of which would have won the game for Washington St.

K. Thompson had the first two baskets for Washington St. in overtime, giving him a team high 17 points. But with 19 seconds left, and the Cougars leading 68-66, it was Moore at the line again, and again, Moore made only one of two free throws.

It forced Northwestern to take three point shots, but also left the door open for the Wildcats to force another overtime. Alex Marcotullio missed his first attempt, but Shurna saved the rebound, and got the ball back to Marcotullio for one last attempt. It also was off target though, and the Cougars packed their bags for New York.

Moore finished with 11 points, as did Faisal Aden, and Brock Motum came off the Washington St. bench with 13 points.

M. Thompson had a game high 18 points for Northwestern, and Marcutullio was close behind, with 16 points. Drew Crawford was also in double digits, with 14 points for the Wildcats, who finished the season 20-14.

Washington St. (22-12) might have put Northwestern away earlier had they not been ice cold from outside, hitting only 4 of 17 three pointers (23.5%). K. Thompson missed all 6 that he attempted. The Wildcats weren't much better, hitting 25.6%, but they lofted up 39 threes, so that percentage translated into 10 that were made.

The Cougars will join future Pac-10 member Colorado in New York. The Buffalos (24-13), wrapping up their last season as a member of the Big XII, defeated Kent St. 81-74 in Boulder, and will meet Alabama (24-11), the SEC West Division Champions, who downed Miami (FL) 79-64 earlier tonight.

Wichita St. (27-8), one of the "other" WSU's, earned their shot at Washington St. with an 82-75 win over Charleston. The Shockers got 16 points from Gabe Blair, and 14 more from J.T. Durley, both seniors.

Washington St. joins Arizona (NCAA Sweet 16) and Oregon (CBI Finals) as the only three Pac-10 teams still playing basketball this late in March.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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