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Wayback Wednesday: Washington State vs. Northwestern in the 2011 NIT

This game was bonkers, and Northwestern came up short. Typical.

Utah Jazz v Golden State Warriors - Game Two Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

As a recurring segment for Inside NU (hopefully), co-editor-in-chief Tristan Jung goes back in Northwestern sports history to find extremely weird games and fun results that newer fans may have forgotten. In the first installment, I examine that time Northwestern faced off against Klay Thompson and Washington State.

Washington State’s Abe Lodwick shot 73.9 percent from the line in his career. In a fit of insanity that would not be rivaled until Scottie Lindsey pointlessly fouled Thomas Bryant six years later, Northwestern put Lodwick on the line with 0.2 seconds remaining. On March 23, 2011, in Pullman, Washington, with the crowd waiting expectantly, he had a chance to win the game.

Fans at CougCenter, Washington State’s SBNation blog, were confident.

(the event occurs after the 1:30 mark)

With 0.2 seconds and a single free throw enough to give Washington State a win over Northwestern, Lodwick missed the first free throw. Then the second rimmed out. Suddenly, Wazzu fans were less confident.

The most famous person in the arena that day was Klay Thompson, who is currently enjoying a day off after scoring 21 points against the Utah Jazz on Monday as his Golden State Warriors march to another NBA Finals appearance. Thompson had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists against Northwestern. The other Thompson — Juice, that is — outscored him with 20 points, but his team scored just 2 points in overtime and lost 69-66 in his final game.

This game was brutal for fans of both teams. The offenses were mediocre, even though both teams were within the top 100 in KenPom offensive efficiency. But it was fun, I guess, in hindsight, even if it was Northwestern’s 2,358th heartbreaking basketball loss.

Now that Northwestern has made the NCAA Tournament, it would be easy to can these games and store them in a locked pantry forever. But some days, you really need to use some tomato sauce to spice up your leftovers. This game was utterly bizarre and arguably worth watching again, if only there were any replays online. Here are some notes I determined from looking at the box score and reading some past articles:

  • Klay Thompson shot 0-of-5 from three!
  • The major storyline heading into this game was that Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto was allowed to play. He had been cited for marijuana use, which would no longer matter today because weed is legal in Washington. This came 19 days after Klay Thompson was arrested for marijuana use himself. I’d imagine he’s slightly annoyed they legalized it after he graduated.
  • Northwestern decided it would be a good idea to attempt 38 three-pointers. This made sense. Northwestern shot 37.5 percent from three in 2010-11. What’s even weirder is that nearly 60 percent of Northwestern’s attempted field goals were threes, a full 15 percent above their season average. How Northwestern only lost by three despite Shurna and Juice going 5-of-22 from three-point land is beyond me.
  • There’s disagreement on how many points Juice Thompson scored. Loretta8 and SBNation have him down for 20, but the official ESPN box score has him at 18. Can someone clarify this for me?
  • Northwestern was 16th in offensive efficiency in 2011? That’s insane! They had a 53.5 eFG%! They shot as many threes as they possibly could! Bill Carmody, forerunner of the Houston Rockets!
  • Washington State was coached by some guy named Ken Bone!
  • No, not that Ken Bone.
  • Bill Carmody got a technical foul in this game and had to be restrained by his assistants. He had reasons to be angry; Washington State committed 12 fouls and Northwestern was whistled for 19.
  • This was Klay Thompson’s penultimate game for Washington State. After shooting 39 percent from three in his college career and flashing all sorts of potential, he was drafted at No. 11 by Golden State. Despite this, Thompson really had trouble shooting against Carmody’s zone defense. Maybe the Spurs/Rockets should play a 1-3-1 zone in the Western Conference Finals. Actually, don’t do that. That would be bad.
  • At least Wichita State beat Washington State 75-44 in the next round. Take that, Klay.
  • I remember there was great fan uproar in Golden State after Monta Ellis got traded. I assume much of this anger was because Warriors fans believed that Monta Ellis was actually good and that Klay Thompson wasn’t ready to replace him. Joe Lacob was booed mercilessly at Chris Mullins’ jersey retirement night. More shots for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, what a disaster...
  • Fans are stupid!
  • Pour one out for Luka Mirkovic.
  • Abe Lodwick apparently played professional basketball in Europe, just like many of the players in this game. John Shurna is in Croatia right now! Mirkovic played for some Greek team. DeAngelo Casto last turned up in Japan.
  • Lodwick was recently signed by Limburg, a Belgian team, and previously played for Okapi Aalstar. I can’t find any Belgian EuroMillions League box scores, but he must’ve played against Demps and Olah at some point, right?

What have we learned?

Absolutely nothing. This was a good effort by a good-but-not-that-good Northwestern team that also featured a future NBA All-Star. But before you throw it it away, just think about what was running through Abe Lodwick’s mind after missing both free throws. Thank heavens I don’t play an NCAA sport and have to feel that pain.

(screams internally)