The setting: Washington State versus Oregon in the Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Wednesday, March 10, 2009.
The scene: Up one point with roughly seven seconds left in regulation, Washington State’s Reggie Moore heads to the line for two free-throws.
With remarkable ease, Moore, an 80% shooter at the charity stripe on the season, knocks down his first attempt.
Then, suddenly, disaster strikes.
Out of nowhere, Cougar head coach Ken Bone comes thundering down like a lightning bolt from Zeus, himself, smiting his own team with a form of sabotage that can only be described as the precursor to an epic Coug It.
Inexplicably, Bone requests a time out between Moore’s first and second free-throw attempts to draw up a defensive play. Rather than let Moore maintain his rhythm, knock down the second foul shot, then call the time out, Bone instead commits the proverbial Boner and, in essence, ices his shooter.
Upon reemerging from the timeout to attempt his second free-throw, Moore clanks the shot off the front iron as the ominous reality of an impending Coug It sets in.
On the ensuing rebound, the ball sails out of bounds. It belongs to Oregon.
With five seconds left in the game and their season, the Ducks inbound the ball to senior Tajuan Porter. Porter, all 5’6″ of him, travels the length of the floor and puts up a running right-hander in the lane.
The shot bounces of the rim and falls out.
However, at that moment, an aptly-placed E.J. Singler swoops in and saves the day for the fowl. With two-tenths of a second remaining on the clock, he manages to get a hand on the rebound, tipping it back into the hoop and through the net for two points and a tie ballgame.
Singler pumps his fist once.
The 50 or so fans on hand for this production leap to their feet. Some cheer, some cry. Everyone reacts. Emotion fills the room.
The referees review the tape. The basket is good. We’re going to overtime.
You all know what happens next.
With the almighty “mo” on their side (momentum, for the uninitiated), the Ducks storm their way to a two-point victory over their Northwest rivals. In the process, they extend their season for at least one more game, and keep their head coach, Ernie Kent, employed for another day.
The Cougars, on the other hand, can only hang their heads and limp back home to the wheat fields of Pullman, Washington, where dreams are broken and wheeled out of town on a double-wide. They have just Couged It in new, unprecedented, unanticipated fashion. And they only have their coach — sadly, a former Husky — to blame for it.
Yes, folks, we have just paid witness to one of the most cruel and unusual Coug It’s of all-time. Icing your own player at the stripe with the season on the line.
Even I have to shake my head at that one.
Sorry, Cougs. That was tough.