With a limited number of games left this season, the Arizona Wildcats have to make the most of every minute they get to play.
So why not play an extra 10 to finish off a road sweep?!
Terrell Brown Jr.’s banked 3-pointer with 12.5 seconds left in the second overtime proved to be the game-winner, helping Arizona knock off the unbeaten Washington State Cougars 86-82 on Saturday night.
It was the Wildcats’ fourth win in a row and ninth consecutive victory in Pullman, but it was far from easy. Foul trouble for the frontcourt and poor shooting all around—except for freshman Bennedict Mathurin—made for a stress-filled 50 minutes of basketball.
Mathurin made two free throws with 9.2 seconds left to ice the victory, giving him a career-high 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go with 11 rebounds. He was 6 of 7 from the line as Arizona (9-1, 3-1 Pac-12) made 25 of 32 free throws while WSU (8-1, 1-1) was a woeful 19 of 37 from the line including 5 of 14 in the two OTs.
Arizona had a chance to win in regulation but did not get a shot off despite having the ball for the final 23.8 seconds, while WSU’s Isaac Bonton—who had 25 points but took 23 shots—missed a 3-pointer in the final moments of the first overtime.
The UA shot 37.3 percent, making only 36.7 percent of its shots in regulation, and was just 5 of 22 from 3. Leading scorer Jemarl Baker Jr. had the worst night of his UA career, missing 13 of 14 shots and all nine 3-point attempts, while James Akinjo had 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting along with five rebounds and six assists.
Terrell Brown, from Seattle, finished with 15 points, four rebounds and two assists but did see his long streak of not turning the ball over end.
Arizona led 29-27 at the half, only leading for the final two seconds of the opening 20 minutes that featured nearly twice as many free throw attempts (29) as made baskets (16).
A jumper by Akinjo upped the lead to four, but then WSU scored 12 of the next 14 points including seven in a row to lead 39-33 with 15:55 left. Along the way Jordan Brown picked up his third foul, Christian Koloko got his fourth and Ira Lee caught his third while Terrell Brown committed his second turnover of the night after having only three in the first nine games.
Koloko and Lee would eventually foul out, while Jordan Brown sat for the final 3:49 of regulation and did not play in either OT and finished with five points and three rebounds in 18 minutes.
The UA went back in front on a 7-0 run capped by a 3-point play from Azuolas Tubelis to make it 44-41 with 11:14 left. That came after Sean Miller made one of his textbook angry timeout calls, turning beet red in the huddle.
Terrell Brown’s pull-up from just inside the foul line gave the Wildcats a 51-45 edge with 9:15 left, but then volume shooter Bonton scored five in a row to cut the lead to one. Bonton’s drive put the Cougars back ahead at 56-54, the first of five lead changes over the next 94 seconds.
Bonton’s 3-point play with 4:03 left put WSU up 63-59, only to see Arizona go back up 64-63 after Mathurin drained three free throws with 3:10 left. Andrej Jakimovski put the Cougars ahead 66-64 with a triple, then the teams traded baskets before Akinjo tied it at 68 with 1:14 left.
Mathurin put the Wildcats up 70-68 on a putback with 36 seconds to go, then WSU knotted it up on a layup by Efe Abogidi with 23.8 seconds left and Arizona couldn’t get a shot off in regulation.
Terrell Brown had Arizona’s first and last points in the first overtime, his drive with 11.4 seconds left tying it at 76. The Wildcats turned it over four times in that five-minute period after only turning it over seven times in the first 40 minutes.
Arizona went more than three minutes into the game before scoring, spotting Washington State a 6-0 lead, and trailed 18-11 after a five-minute drought without a basket before Akinjo connected with Mathurin for an alley-oop. The Cougars led by as many as eight in the first half, at 22-14, before the Wildcats finally started to get some offense going.
It was mostly in the form of foul shots, particularly during a 10-2 run that gave the UA its first lead with two seconds left before halftime. Akinjo drew a foul in a crowd, but before he could go to the line WSU coach Kyle Smith was hit with a technical, and Jordan Brown made two technical free throws before Akinjo drained a pair to give the Wildcats a 29-26 lead.
The UA returns home to face USC on Thursday night at McKale Center. The Trojans are 1-1 in Pac-12 play after splitting a homestand against the Rocky Mountain schools.