Washington State coach Ken Bone thought if his team could get to the championship game of the Pac-10 Conference tournament that the Cougars had a good chance of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
That won't happen, and the Cougars are left wondering what might have been.
Washington State built an eight-point lead against Washington at halftime of its Pac-10 quarterfinal game and trailed by only two in the final minute against the Huskies before losing 89-87 Thursday night in Los Angeles. Making the loss more difficult is the fact that a win would have put the Cougars up against seventh-seeded Oregon, which upset second-seeded UCLA, in the semis.
So sixth-seeded Washington State would have been favored to get to the title game that Bone figured could have been the key to an NCAA invitation. A win over the third-seeded Huskies also would have helped Washington State's chances to get in the tourney because that would have given the Cougars a three-game season sweep over Washington when the two teams were compared for a tournament berth.
Instead, Washington State is 19-12 overall, and a 9-9 finish in Pac-10 play certainly will leave them out of the NCAA Tournament. A berth in the NIT seems to be a likely alternative.
Klay Thompson returned from a one-game suspension to set the Pac-10 tournament record with 43 points against Washington, equaling his career high. His eight 3-pointers were also a tournament record, and he became Washington State's single-season scoring leader with 664 points.
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