Once the ball left Terrell Brown Jr’s hand it was destined to find a way to get in the basket. That’s of course after hitting the backboard with 13 seconds left in the game and three seconds left on the shot clock.
Brown Jr., and UA had an angel on the hardwood in its 86-82 double-overtime win on Saturday night.
After all, his late grandfather willed that ball in after a near three-hour game in Pullman, Washington. At least that’s how it felt for Brown, whose grandfather passed away while UA was on this trip.
“That was him guiding that basketball in,” Brown said. “They gave me the opportunity to shoot that shot with the clock winding down…. My grandfather was watching me tonight.”
All Terrell was thinking was get a shot off before the clock would go off. Indeed, he did, as UA ended a long night in the Palouse and won its ninth game this season.
It was the first time he’s hit a game winner, he said.
There was never a doubt he wouldn’t play given the news from the night before.
“It’s something that helped me clear my mind up,” Brown said, saying he and Miller spoke about the circumstances.
Brown said everyone on the team knew of the situation and “they had my back.”
Brown finished with 15 points in 38 minutes. He added four rebounds and two assists. Benedict Mathurin had a career-high 24 points and 11 rebounds.
“I feel it’s really great,” said Benedict Mathurin, of Brown’s game. “it’s not easy to lose somebody close. He did a great job showing up tonight. Terrell is a great teammate, even if the situation was not easy for him it was good to see him step up on the court.”
Arizona outlasted a tougher-than-expected Washington State team, one that entered undefeated at 8-0 but had played a very soft schedule. But the Cougars were up for the task from start to finish. What eventually did the Cougars in were key players fouling out. WSU also missed 18 free throws, going 19 of 37. Many came in overtime when the game could have been put away.
Instead, Arizona continued its dominance over the Cougars, winning for the ninth consecutive time over WSU. UA coach Sean Miller is 16-3 vs. WSU at UA.
“It says (UA) has a lot of grit,” Brown, Jr., said of the win. “We want to win every game. That’s what we bring to the table every time.”
That’s the way they’ll approach it the rest of the season given UA has decided to self-impose a penalty of not participating in the postseason. Arizona’s damage will have to be done in the regular season.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” said UA assistant coach Jason Terry, speaking to the media via Zoom. “This is the first game all season where we faced some true adversity in a game.”
On the road vs. a team that was undefeated. He talked about UA being resilient and tough down the stretch. He added Miller calmed the team down late into the overtimes and got the team to execute for the win.
It always helps to have a fifth-year season help get the team to the victory. Brown, Jr., did that with some help from his grandfather.
“He’s just a winning basketball player,” said Terry, Brown’s godfather but not related to his grandfather. “The basketball gods and his grandpa were on our side tonight.”