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WOU true freshman Devon Alexander scored seven of the Wolves’ 13 points in the third overtime.
December 05, 2012
MONMOUTH -- As the shot left Jordan Wiley's fingertips with the buzzer sounding, reality took a break.
The moment seemed to stop everything in the New Physical Education Building -- the crowd conversations, the whistles, the music all froze Saturday, at least for a split second.
Then the ball dropped through the hoop.
"I was like, `Wow,' that was clutch, man," Western Oregon freshman Devon Alexander said of his teammates buzzer-beating shot that tied the Wolves' contest with Central Washington and sent into overtime.
It would take three 5-minute extra frames for WOU to pull off the unbelievable: a come-from-behind, 118-113 victory in the Wolves' longest game since the 2006-07 season.
This, all from a perfectly executed, full-court Hail Mary play with 1.5 seconds to play in regulation.
"When you practice those special situations in practice, it's obviously a controlled setting," second-year WOU coach Brady Bergeson said of regulation's final play.
"And for us to do that with that amount of time without a timeout, it's really just a testament to our players and their intelligence level and their ability to execute under pressure."
Though Wiley hit the shot that gave the Wolves -- riding high on a six-game winning streak -- new life, WOU used a host of players to pull off one of its more dramatic wins in recent history.
Andy Avgi, as he has done all season, led the way.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound redshirt freshman center scored a career-high 36 points, including the third overtime's final two - a pair of free throws to seal the win with 1.6 seconds remaining.
The center from Woodburn made 13 of 23 shots from the field, hit 9 of 12 free throws and pulled down 12 boards. Through the Wolves' first eight games, he's averaging 21.8 points per contest, ranking him second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Three overtimes was definitely a first for Avgi.
"Never in my life," he said in response to his experience in triple-overtime situations. "It was a little exhausting, but when you're in the moment of the game, that doesn't matter to you.
Western Oregon’s Andy Avgi had a career-high 36 points in Saturday’s triple overtime win over CWU.
"You just want to do whatever you can to help the team win and that exhaustion just goes away."
Reaching overtime was a battle in itself.
Before Avgi caught a court-length pass at the top of the key with one hand and flipped it to Wiley on the wing, the Wolves found themselves down five points with 19.6 seconds left to play.
Then Avgi drilled a 3 to cut the lead to two with 12.7 ticks on the clock. After Central Washington hit a pair of free throws, it was Alexander's turn to do the improbable, as he forced a triple up through two defenders to bring WOU within one.
CWU (5-2, 1-1 GNAC) would hit two more free throws with 1.5 seconds left to regain a three-point lead, until Wiley's heroics sent the game into overtime.
Both teams battled in the next two frames until Alexander, who scored 28 points and collected five steals in the contest, took over late in the third overtime. The freshman from Fontana, Calif., scored seven of the Wolves' 13 points in the third OT.
"I think the coaches just believe in me a lot -- that helps my confidence," Alexander said.
He also noted the chemistry that WOU, which saw 12 players take the court Saturday, has gained in such a short period of time, with 10 new players on the roster from a year ago.
"(Saturday's win) showed that we have a lot of heart and everyone believes in everyone. That could have been five different guys out there on the court in all three overtimes," said Alexander.
"I think we've grown a lot but I think we've still got a long ways to go and we can only get better."
Wiley finished the game with 20 points -- including a 5-for-9 showing from behind the arc -- and Drew Johnson added nine points for WOU (6-2), which improved to 2-0 in the GNAC. WOU rallied for a 92-84 victory over Northwest Nazarene Thursday.
Mark McLaughlin led CWU with 33 points.
"I just credit our players," added Bergeson. "These guys won with their hearts -- neither team deserved to lose. Central was unbelievable, competitive, played with an extreme amount of heart, but you know, our guys did, too.
"Our guys absolutely deserved to win. I'm so proud of them."
Western Oregon (6-2) at Utah State (4-1*)
When: Saturday, 6:05 p.m.
Where: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, Logan, Utah.
* Does not include Wednesday's result against BYU.