For a moment, it was there.
I had hoped this game would go down to the final possession. Then: Klay gets open for three, and we have a moment we're talking about for years to come.
We had our chance (or, at least, a chance to tie). Klay drove into the lane, spun, got off a good fadeaway jumper, and... nope.
It was just that kind of night.
With Klay Thompson, we have to remember that without him we're not even in this game. His defense, rebounding and ability to create for his teammates is always present. There were so many failures tonight - on so many levels - that's it's tempting to just place the blame on one thing so the loss is easier to understand. But there wasn't just one thing. It was three point shooting for the whole team. It was free throws. It was a complete inability to stop Derrick Williams on the glass (hard to blame them).
And what key game in Friel Court would be complete without a completely random opposing player draining threes when the crowd gets its very loudest. That role was played by Jamelle Horne, draining two key threes late in the second half. That, coupled with free throw shots on just about every other possession down the stretch, was enough for the Arizona offense to overcome the Cougars.
There are good things that come from heartbreaking losses... Kyle Weaver listed the loss to #1 Stanford as one of the things that motivated him to come to WSU. Maybe tonight will help convince Klay that he can benefit from another year in college (and while I am biased, I really do believe it would be best for his future)... or maybe it will just motivate the team to go out and beat Washington a week from now.
Player of the Game: DeAngelo Casto. He had a herculean task to try and accomplish tonight, and against Derrick Williams he went 8 for 12; including six rebounds and four blocks. We won't talk about the free throw shooting.
Right Hand Man: Marcus Capers. One of the frustrations from this week is that for some reason we can't seem to put together a game where both the shooting combo of Aden/Thompson and the finishing combo of Casto/Capers both have efficient nights scoring. Capers was Capers tonight, with 11 points (on 5/6 shooting), 5 boards, a steal and a block. And his usual great defense.
Unsung Hero: Brock Motum. 9 points on 3/4 shooting and a great boost for the Cougs down the stretch. They needed every big man they could throw at Arizona's frontcourt. Motum was efficient, resourceful and knew when to attack the basket (e.g. when Williams wasn't there).
It was over when... Time expired.
Play of the Game: Oddly enough, a Faisal Aden three from the corner to bring the Cougs within one. That was with 2:30 remaining.
Stat of the Game: Sometimes basketball is really simple. Shoot the ball well, and win. WSU was 4 of 20 from three and 9 of 17 from the charity stripe. Shoot anywhere close to average on those and we're talking about a huge win right now.