The Husky season has been defined by close losses so it was fitting that the home slate ended with yet another one. Washington made several spirited rallies but threw away their ample chances at the free throw line to lose 78-74 and get swept by WSU. The Dawgs fall to 13-16 (3-13) while the Cougars improve to 15-14 (6-10).
Washington only loses one scholarship player to graduation but on senior night the Huskies started 5 players who played in their final game at Hec Ed. Walk-on seniors Jason Crandall and Quin Barnard started alongside one and done freshmen Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart. Crandall provided the highlight of the night early with a high flying put back to start off the scoring.
Jaden McDaniels was also hot early nailing a pair of tough jumpers for 5 quick points. But the Cougars quickly settled in and abused Sam Timmins in the paint to score 13 points by the first media timeout.
Both teams cooled down a little from there and Washington State went scoreless for nearly 5 minutes at one point. Unfortunately the Huskies failed to take advantage. Fouls quickly piled up for both teams as the refs began calling every little touch. Isaiah Stewart picked up 2 ticky tack fouls on the same possession with 10 minutes left and headed to the bench for most of the remaining time.
WSU's shots began falling again and they started to stretch the lead before Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels had consecutive thunderous dunks prompting a Cougar timeout. Washington went completely cold after that and gave up multiple live ball steals for dunks on the other end. The Huskies also finished out the half 2/9 from the free throw line including a missed front end of a 1 and 1 by Naz Carter (a specialty of his). WSU took advantage for a quick 10-0 run that resulted in a 41-28 deficit for the Dawgs. Jaden led the way with 11 points but also had 3 turnovers and missed his last 3 shots from the field terribly as well as a pair of FTs.
Washington showed some fight coming out of halftime. Jamal Bey played some exemplary defense and Washington consistently got out on the break and Washington State fouled...and fouled...and fouled. The Cougars put Washington in the bonus a mere 7 minutes into the 2nd half.
But the Huskies still struggled to make their free throws despite plenty of chances. A Cougar slump allowed Washington to slowly make it happen though and a 19-4 run gave the Huskies their first lead since midway through the 1st half at 47-45.
In moments like those it has generally been Jaden McDaniels to draw the ire of the refs but not this time. Jamal Bey blocked a shot out of bounds and apparently stared a little too long after as he got called for a technical. The Cougars made both free throws and then C.J Elleby hit a corner 3 off the inbounds pass for a 5 point possession. Things continued to spiral out of control as the Cougars sank their next three 3-pointers in a row, the latter of which hit every part of the rim before bouncing in. That brought the lead back to the 13 point halftime margin.
From there Coach Hopkins put in Elijah Hardy and finally went to man to man. It gave the Huskies a quick burst of life and they got the lead within 6 points at 66-60 and within striking distance. Unfortunately WSU finally got into the double bonus and the Cougars got to the line and continued to make attempt after attempt.
Marcus Tsohonis hit a corner 3 (the 1st for UW since the opening minutes) and after a steal RaeQuan Battle had an open look to bring the Dawgs back within 1. Of course it rimmed out though and WSU nailed a pair of FTs on the other end.
Still the Huskies wouldn't die as Elijah Hardy nailed a corner 3 from the same spot as Marcus to close the gap to 75-72 and just over a minute to go. Washington State ran the clock down but after a contested Elleby layup missed the rim it resulted in a shot clock violation with 32 seconds left. Naz Carter took his man to the rim right away and the Cougars trying not to foul gave up the easy bucket to make it 75-74 with 23.6 remaining. After another pair of WSU free throws the Huskies ran the Jaylen Nowell iso special for Naz Carter and he forced up a contested fall away 10 footer that didn't come close. The Cougars got the rebound and sank another pair of free throws with 5 seconds left to finally end it.
Washington finished the game 23/38 (60.5%) from the free throw line while Washington State made 23/27 (85.2%) including 9 of their last 10. If you swap the percentages and keep the number of attempts it results in a comfortable 10 point Husky win. Instead it's a 4 point crushing loss.
The defeat drops the Huskies to an unthinkable 1-12 in games decided by single digits since the season opener against Baylor.
Jaden McDaniels finished with 19 points but accompanied it with a ghastly 6 turnovers. Naz chipped in 14 points but was 2/5 at the line with 2 missed front ends. Isaiah Stewart had a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds but was just 2/7 from the line and had 4 turnovers of his own. No one else showed much offensive consistency as the Huskies wound up finishing 3/16 (18.8%) after shooting a single digit percentage until the final moments.
Washington closes out the regular season with a pair of road games at the Arizona schools starting next Thursday.