Cougs’ celebration comes bit too early
PULLMAN – Oregon’s Malcolm Armstead grabbed Klay Thompson’s miss with 6 seconds left in the second overtime, raced the length of the court, scored and was fouled with a half second on the clock, lifting the Ducks to a wild 91-89 Pacific-10 Conference win Thursday.
As the 5,810 who made it to Beasley Coliseum on New Year’s Eve sat stunned, their thoughts may have immediately turned to a similar play at the end of the first overtime, when it looked like Washington State had grabbed the win.
It went like this:
After Tajuan Porter hit a 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in the first extra period to tie the score at 78, Thompson received an inbounds pass, raced up court and found a sprinting DeAngelo Casto near the basket.
Casto, bruised and battered from guarding Oregon’s Michael Dunigan for 45 minutes, gathered himself, spun and laid the ball over the rim for his 15th point.
As the ball fell through, Casto ran up court, sure the Cougars had rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to win 80-78. But his elation, and that of some of the WSU reserves who ran onto the court, was premature.
There was still three-tenths of a second remaining. A whistle blew. The officials huddled, called the coaches over, then went to the scorer’s table. An indirect bench technical was called, for WSU’s reserves being on the court.
Porter, Oregon’s lone senior in uniform, had a chance to tie. The lifetime 86 percent free-throw shooter did just that, hitting both and sending the game to another overtime.
“We (called) a technical foul for bench personnel running onto the court during a live ball, without being beckoned onto the court,” Mike Littlewood, the lead official, said afterward, going on to cite Rule 6, Section 1, article 4B, which states: “The ball shall become live when … B, on a throw-in the ball is at the disposal of the thrower in and the official begins the throw-in count.”
Littlewood said that’s what happened.
“As soon as he grabs the ball, the ball is live,” Littlewood added, and WSU had too many players on the court.
“It’s a tough way to lose a game,” WSU coach Ken Bone said, picking his words carefully. “There’s not a whole lot we can do about it now.”
But Bone tried to do a lot when it occurred, arguing with Littlewood and his crew. And he argued voraciously after Armstead’s winning bucket 5 minutes later, when Oregon players entered the court.
The difference, Littlewood said, was the foul made it a dead-ball situation.
“It’s one of those things that kind of take your heart out,” Casto said of the technical. “We just battled and battled for 40 minutes, then battled for another 5. … We were so excited. Point-three left, there is really no way you can get a shot off. Then when that technical came, you kind of looked at your self and we had to go to the next (overtime).”
Despite the deflation, the Cougars (10-3, 0-1 Pac-10) had a chance to win, leading the second overtime 88-85 after Thompson’s 22-footer with 2:56 remaining.
But they had no answer for the 5-foot-7 Porter, who scored 18 of his 31 points after regulation, going 6 of 12 from the floor and 4 of 7 from beyond the arc in the 10 extra minutes alone.
He finished with 31 points, though the final four Oregon points came on Dunigan’s layup – the last of his 22 points – to tie it at 89 and on Armstead’s winner.
“For all of his basketball career he’s had to be a guy who gets after you and puts you on your heels because of the size,” Oregon coach Ernie Kent said of Porter. “He has to get you moving and freeze you.”
Porter did that much of the game with Reggie Moore trying to guard him, putting Moore in early foul trouble and helping to limit WSU’s second-leading scorer to 10 points.
The Ducks had all the Cougars on their heels early, breaking out to a 12-2 lead, extending the margin to 15 late in the first half, and still leading 52-39 with 11:30 left in regulation.