The longest run in Northwestern postseason history is over. Washington State outscored Northwestern 5-2 in overtime Wednesday night to advance to the semifinals of the NIT.
The game was Washington State's to lose in regulation. WSU's Abe Lodwick missed two free throws with 0.2 seconds left in a tie game. After getting a second chance, NU failed to connect on numerous open three-pointers in overtime, and the Cougars held on for the win.
Washington State took control early in the game, building a twelve point lead with less than four minutes remaining in the first half. Northwestern went on a bit of a run and got it to within seven at the half.
Northwestern opened up the second half with a 10-1 run in the first three minutes to lead the game 41-39. Klay Thompson answered with an impressive dunk while being fouled by Curletti. Neither team could pull away in the second half.
Trailing by two with less than ten seconds remaining, John Shurna drove to the basket and had his layup blocked after it hit the backboard. The refs correctly called it a goaltend, and it set up the drama at the end of the second half. Drew Crawford fouled Abe Lodwick right before the buzzer. After a lengthy video review by the officials, Lodwick missed both shots and sent the game into overtime.
Luka Mirkovic scored NU's only points in the extra period by sneaking behind the defense for a layup. Alex Marcotullio had a couple of chances to tie the game with long threes in the closing seconds of the game, but he couldn't get either shot to fall.
Northwestern shot over 50% from two-point range, but at times this season they have lived and died by the three-pointer. Tonight they died, managing to only hit 10 of 38 from behind the arc. Shurna had a particularly bad night from distance, making only 2 of 10.
Washington State had suspended DeAngelo Casto on Tuesday due to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, but the WSU AD reinstated the power forward after learning more about the case on Wednesday. It isn't hard to believe that Northwestern would have won tonight if Casto hadn't played. Casto finished the game with 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.
Juice Thompson ends his Northwestern career with a disappointing game, but what a career he has had. He averaged over 35 minutes played per game over the past four years. He led the Cats to two straight 20 win seasons, and three straight NIT appearances. It will be interesting to see if NU can find someone to replace his leadership and solid point guard play.