SANTA CLARA, Calif. – For 39 minutes, 24 seconds Sunday night, the Santa Clara Broncos were perfect from the free-throw line. Thirty attempts, 30 makes.
But with less than a minute left and nursing a one-point lead, guard Kevin Foster, who would finish with a game-high 29 points, missed one.
Junior forward Marc Trasolini missed another 13 seconds later and the visiting Washington State Cougars, who had trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half, had a shot.
And Klay Thompson, who had just missed two good looks from beyond the arc, buried it.
The junior’s 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining tied it at 71 and sent the nonconference game into overtime, where the Cougars would go on to subdue stubborn Santa Clara 85-79 in front of 1,897 at the Leavey Center.
“I had three shots to tie the game and missed two,” Thompson said. “But you can’t let that affect you.”
DeAngelo Casto opened overtime with a three-point play and, after Foster hit his fourth 3-pointer, cleaned up a Marcus Capers miss to give WSU (8-1) the lead for good at 76-74. The junior post finished with 15 points, two blocks and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The lead was five a minute later when Thompson, who scored a team-high 23 points, stepped back again and nailed a 24-footer, sealing the Broncos’ (6-6) fate.
“I had a big on me and I took advantage,” said Thompson, whose seven rebounds, five steals and two blocks helped overcome his six turnovers. “He gave me too much room (so) I stopped and popped.”
The long 3 seemed to pop the Broncos’ bubble, though Santa Clara freshman guard Evan Roquemore, who finished with 16 points, tried to answer, hitting a 3 with a minute left.
But WSU hit six free throws down the stretch – the Cougars converted 19 of their last 21 – to hold on.
“There was a lot of things we did well down the stretch, and one of the big ones was making free throws,” WSU coach Ken Bone said.
There wasn’t a lot early, though, as the Broncos, who have now lost all three games against Pac-10 competition this season, used a 9-0 run late in the first half to lead 35-29 going into intermission.
“We were flat to start the game,” Thompson said, not mentioning WSU had last played nine days earlier, when it defeated Texas-Pan American 69-52 at the Spokane Arena.
The Cougars, who had shot just three free throws in the first 20 minutes, were much more aggressive in the second half, and got to the line or scored on a layup in four of their first five second-half possessions.
When Thompson stole the ball and fed Capers for a fastbreak dunk with 16:30 to play, WSU tied the score at 40. It was Capers’ second slam and was part of a 14-point, seven-rebound night.
But the Broncos, led by Trasolini, who finished with 18 points off the bench, quickly built the lead back to 10, 58-48 with 10 minutes left.
When Reggie Moore hit two free throws with 5:32 left, the Cougars had used a 13-2 run to pull ahead 61-60. But the Broncos regained the lead. It was 69-68 when Foster went to the line with 35.8 seconds left. His miss, and Trasolini’s, opened the door that Thompson slammed on the Broncos.
“It was good to be tested,” Thompson said, “and come out with a win.”
Washington State now heads to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic that starts Wednesday with a noon matchup with Mississippi State.
“We needed that (win) going into this tournament,” Bone said. “It is nice to go in with a little confidence.”