Jon Brockman had a double-double in the first half, but the Aggies clamped down in the second half. And I thought that was the story of the game ... and maybe of the season so far: Washington knows it has something special in Brockman. But where is the help? When a team goes all out to take Brockman away, who steps up to make them pay elsewhere? Tonight, no one did.
Looking ahead, Ohio State beat Syracuse in the other semifinal game, meaning UW will meet the Orange in the NIT Season Tip-Off consolation game at 1:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN). Texas A&M will play Ohio State for the championship at 4 p.m. (ESPN2).
Notes on the UW game:
Star of the game: Brockman had a double-double in the first half: 13 points and 11 rebounds. And although he cooled, he ended with 21 points and 15 rebounds – both game highs - and he seems halfway to a spot on the all-tournament team.
Key stats: The Aggies outrebounded Washington, 48-39. Washington outshot A&M .533-.394 in the first half, yet led by only four points. UW hit only two of 13 3-point attempts (.154), both by 7-foot Joe Wolfinger.
Key run: Joel Smith scored the first basket of the second half, but the Aggies scored six straight after that to pull even and remained in control the rest of the way.
Observations: The loss ends Washington's streak of three straight early-season tournament championships. The Huskies had won the Great Alaska Shootout (2004), the BCA Classic (2005) and the Basketball Travelers Classic (2006). … UW coach Lorenzo Romar remains one win short of the 200-victory mark. … This was Washington's first game at Madison Square Garden since routing New York University, 72-38, in 1941. … A late-arriving crowd of 8,388 was in attendance.
Romar quote on the game: "Dominique Kirk, I think, was the difference in this ballgame. He was a senior. He controlled this basketball game from the guard position. He directed their team, he scored when he had to, he got the ball inside when he had to. He spearheaded their defense."
Brockman on UW being outrebounded: "I feel we could have rebounded a lot better than we did. They are a great rebounding team. They're big bodies, and a lot of times when big bodies shoot around the hoop, you know, their arms aren't that far from the hoop, so they just get it right back. But we definitely could have done a better job clearning the glass."
Joe Wolfinger, who had UW's only two 3-pointers: I had a couple of open shots, but they didn't go in. If we had had our original 3-point shooter - Appleby - the game would have been a lot different.
Romar on missing Appleby: "Well, we didn't have Appleby in the first half, and we were up by four. Does he help? Yeah, anytime your playing without of your starters, your top scorers, it hurts. We've got games to play. We can't say Friday we're not going to play because we don't have Appleby. We've got to show up and play."
Romar, on whether he's disappointed: Well, disappointed, because we lost. Whenever you lose you can point to areas where you could have done a better job. We could have controlled their guards better."
Semifinal Game 2: Ohio State defeated Syracuse, 79-65. Forward Kosta Koufos led the winners with 24 points and nine rebounds, but four Buckeyes had 12 points or more. Forward Donte Greene led Syracuse with 21 points, while Orange forward Paul Harris had a game-high 12 rebounds.