Husky Team Effort Tops Big Day From Klay
By Michelle Smith
- Photo Gallery
- Post-game Press Conference
LOS ANGELES - The Huskies weren't done - that was the bottom line.
Washington, the No. 3 seed, rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit, played nip-and-tuck against rival Washington State for most of the second half and came away with an 89-87 win in the final quarterfinal on Thursday of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament at Staples Center.
The Huskies (21-10), the defending tournament champions, will face Oregon Friday in the tournament semifinals.
And getting there wasn't easy. Washington coach Lorenzo Romar rallied his team after a tough first half and they responded with a 10-0 run in the opening 2:14 of the second half.
From there, it was a thriller, with five ties and six lead changes - the rivals trading leads and big shots. The Huskies overcame the best offensive performance in tournament history by Washington State's Klay Thompson, who scored a tournament record 43 points.
Washington State (19-12) had won both regular-season meetings between the teams, adding to the intensity of this matchup.
"Our guys laid it all out there on the floor," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. "They scrapped and gave every ounce of what they had to come back and get that victory."
No one gave more than all-conference guard Isaiah Thomas who finished with 21 points and 11 assists.
He also had some words for his team at halftime.
"I yelled at guys that we don't want this to be our last game," Thomas said. "We had faith and when you have faith, a lot of things can happen."
Sixteen of Thomas' points came in the second half. He scored three late baskets that helped the Huskies hold the lead, including a lay-up with nine seconds to go that sealed the win.
"He willed our team to win today," Romar said.
Thomas had plenty of help. Five Washington players scored in double figures. Senior Justin Holiday, cleared early in the day to play on his injured ankle, finished with a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Terrence Ross added 17 points and fellow freshman C.J. WIlcox had 16 points with five 3-pointers. Four of those came in the second half.
"After you hit a couple of shots, coach draws up plays for you and you have to respond," Wilcox said. "Early in the game I wasn't hitting and they tell me to keep shooting."
Thompson had an extraordinary night in the losing effort. It was a performance worthy of the conference's leading scorer. Thompson set the Pac-10 single-game tournament scoring record with 43 points, including eight 3-pointers (also a tournament record). He also tied the Pac-10 record with 15 made field-goals.
"I am disappointed that we lost, but I'm proud of Klay Thompson," said WSU coach Ken Bone. "But it's always disappointing to lose, no matter if a player scores five or fifty points. We're playing good basketball right now and I hope the season doesn't end tonight. It's just not in my hands."
Washington State will await its fate with the NCAA Selection Committee on Sunday.
And the Huskies will move on to face an Oregon team that they split with in the regular-season.
"They are a true team in every sense," Romar said of the Ducks. "They play together and they play hard and it will be a tough game for us. We need to come ready, because I know they will."