Washington lost against Minnesota in November on a near buzzer beating 3-pointer that was clearly a travel that wasn’t called. They lost to Oregon State 2 years ago in a game that might have cost them a trip to the NCAA tournament on a 3-pointer that was clearly a travel that wasn’t called. The law of averages finally played out in Washington’s favor as an iffy foul on a Jaylen Nowell 3-pointer in a tie game with less than 2 seconds remaining put the Huskies up in an eventual 61-56 victory at Oregon. The win was Washington’s first in Eugene since 2010 and the first anywhere against the Ducks in more than 4 years. Washington improves to 15-4 (6-0) on the season.
The Huskies have been renowned for their slow starts this season but that wasn’t a problem in this one as it looked like they were extremely motivated from the tip. Oregon banked in a wild hook shot to start off the game but from there the Husky defense was absolutely dominant. David Crisp and Jaylen Nowell both had multiple baskets including a pair of 3’s by Crisp in the first 5.5 minutes of the game and it led to an 11-2 UW lead.
The Huskies did experience some concern when Noah Dickerson appeared to injure his ankle and immediately asked out of the game. He returned though a few minutes later and dunked it home to complete the 13-0 run for Washington before Oregon scored again. That means a scoreless drought by Oregon of more than 7.5 minutes.
But Washington couldn’t quite put the Ducks away because of some unforced turnovers and overall sloppy play on offense. Washington experienced a 3 minute scoring drought of their own and Oregon pushed the lead back to single digits at 17-9 after Noah couldn’t jump high enough to prevent a lob attempt.
Sam Timmins became the story in the final 5 minutes of the half. He was fouled down low and airballed his first free throw both short and to the right which you don’t see every day. But he made the second to improve his FT percentage to 33.3% on the season. A minute later he was called for a moving screen but immediately came up with a steal to secure possession back for UW. Matisse Thybulle either made a visionary pass to Timmins or airballed a floater but regardless TImmins caught it and put it off the window to extend the lead to 21-12 with 3:30 remaining in the half. After Timmins fouled on a layup leading to Oregon making 1 of 2, the Huskies pushed the ball and Jaylen Nowell found Sam Timmins for an alley-oop dunk. Finally, Timmins showed some nifty footwork and maybe got away with a travel to make it 25-15 Dawgs.
The Huskies again pushed the ball against Oregon’s press defense and this time it was Jaylen Nowell receiving an alley-oop as he dunked all over Ehab Amin for the poster and it looked like the Huskies would be up by double digits at the half.
But UW’s tendency to make stupid plays at inopportune moments reared its ugly head at the worst time. After an Oregon basket the Ducks stole the inbounds pass and after a great defensive sequence by the Huskies, David Crisp fouled Louis King shooting a desperation 3 with 1.4 seconds left and he hit 2 of 3 free throws to make it 27-19 Huskies at halftime.
Oregon seemed to use that last play as momentum coming out of the locker room as they scored on their first 3 possessions and brought the lead down to 3 for the first time since it was 5-2 a few minutes in. But Washington took the early blow and responded as Jaylen Nowell hit a 3-pointer to push it back to 6. The Huskies started running the court and it led to dunks by Noah and Nowell plus a pair of free throws by David Crisp to extend the Husky lead to 12 at 40-28 with with 15 minutes left.
But from there the Huskies forgot how to play basketball. Oregon’s full court press completely flummoxed Washington as the Huskies turned over the ball again and again and most of the time either couldn’t get the ball in or couldn’t get it across half court. David Crisp hit a few more 3-pointers as did Naz Carter on the few occasions where Washington got off a shot. Oregon, fueled by those turnovers, went on a 14-0 run over a 6 minute span late in the game before Kenny Wooten was called for goal tending on a Nowell midrange jumper with 2:06 remaining which left Oregon with a 56-53 lead.
But the Husky defense forced a turnover and Jaylen Nowell came up huge with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 56. Washington got another steal on the next possession but Matisse Thybulle clearly pushed off going for a fastbreak layup and was called for an offensive foul to give it right back to Oregon. Thybulle made another mental mistake after a UW stop as he took a contested 3-pointer with 26 seconds left in the game which rimmed out and gave Oregon a chance at the game winner as time expired.
Thybulle made up for those lapses though and caused Payton Pritchard to lose the ball and it rolled directly into Jaylen Nowell’s hands with 4 seconds left. Nowell sprinted down court and heaved the ball with 1.6 seconds left as Pritchard raced to try to block the shot. From the replays it was questionable whether Pritchard made any contact with Nowell but the refs called it a shooting foul and Nowell went to the line to shoot 3. He came up clutch as ever and drained all 3 to put UW up 59-56 with 1.6 seconds remaining. An Oregon fullcourt pass wasn’t touched by anyone allowing UW to inbound it and Matisse Thybulle was fouled and made both to get to the final score of 61-56.
Nowell’s late heroics helped him lead the team in scoring with 20 points while David Crisp added 18 points and 5 assists. Washington now faces a dangerous Oregon State team on Saturday on the back half of the Oregon road trip.
Double Bonus Dots
- Let’s get this out of the way. The final call. No, I don’t think that was a foul on Pritchard. Yes, I’d be apoplectic if I was an Oregon fan. Yes, it feels like Washington was owed a call like this after several brutal ones directly costing UW the game in the past few years. The difference with this one of course is that had the ref swallowed his whistle the game would have gone to overtime and Oregon still could have lost. The Oregon State and Minnesota games would’ve just been a flat out win for UW. But the Huskies aren’t going to apologize for it and neither am I. #Pac12Refs. The only force more destructive than Bill Walton’s voice. (My favorite from Bill tonight: “We haven’t seen much of Travis Rice from the Huskies tonight...” Yes, Bill because he’s a walk-on who only plays in the last minute of blowouts.)
- If you didn’t watch the game it is impossible for me to describe just how putrid the 6 minute stretch of basketball was at the end of the 2nd half. And yet I am challenged with that very task. The Huskies were simply unable to get the ball across half court. Even when they did manage it the receiving player was wildly off balance and several Oregon players swarmed him to tip it away. The Huskies repeatedly threw the ball into the corners and calmly let Oregon trap or heaved the ball down court to an covered UW player. Washington ended up with 19 turnovers. Crisp had 4, Thybulle had 4, Dickerson had 3, Wright and Nowell each had 2. If I’m Hop I’m making the starters practice inbounding it against a 7-man press every day leading up to the rematch against Oregon in March.
- However, when Washington did get a shot off they were masterful; making tough shot after tough shot. The Huskies had 18 assists on their 22 made FGs. I’ll do the research later but it has to have been eons since Washington had less than 5 made FGs that were unassisted. Matisse Thybulle led the way tying a career high with 7 assists. David Crisp had 3 while Noah Dickerson had 2.
- David Crisp’s 3-point turn around has been shocking to watch but it’s the extra spark that the Huskies needed in this one as he was 4 of 8 from deep. And it could’ve been 5 of 9 as he hit another one when Thybulle was caught in the air on the pass and was called for a charge. Jaylen Nowell also had a great shooting night going 3 of 4 from deep. Those contributions were necessary because Matisse missed all 4 of his long range attempts and Dominic Green didn’t attempt a 3-pointer. It’s the first time since February of last season that Green didn’t attempt one during a game.
- This game was significant for ending the losing streak against Oregon but also for improving Washington’s NCAA tournament chances. Tonight marked the Huskies’ 1st victory against a top-75 opponent away from home this season. And they’ll get a chance for another big one on Saturday against Oregon State. Oh yeah, and with Arizona’s loss tonight the Huskies now own a 1.5 game lead in the Pac-12 standings. Go Dawgs.
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