Washington blew a 10-point lead before falling in the final minutes against UCLA when these two teams played in Los Angeles. This time it was the Bruins who almost blew multiple 10-point advantages but Quade Green’s 30-foot heave at the buzzer clanked off the rim to allow UCLA to escape by a margin of 64-61 despite some disastrous free throw shooting. The loss drops Washington to 3-15 (2-11) on the season and snaps UCLA’s 3-game losing streak.
It certainly didn’t look early like the Huskies wanted to do anything but go back outside and play in the snow. UCLA was able to move the ball and find some wide open 3-point looks as they started out 3/4 from deep. Meanwhile the Husky offense looked completely disjointed. Erik Stevenson threw an entry pass out of bounds and was immediately pulled for Marcus Tsohonis. Then Marcus came in and forced things way too much leading to several turnovers and badly missed shots before eventually being pulled himself. Add it all up and UCLA had an 11-0 lead after less than 4 minutes resulting in a Hop timeout and seemingly a game over just after it began.
Fortunately UCLA just flat out forgot how to make baskets. The Bruins went more than 8 minutes before scoring another point which allowed Washington to claw their way back in it even if their offense wasn’t exactly crisp. Quade Green had a really nice bounce pass feed to Nate Roberts for a layup then hit a late shot clock deep 3 on consecutive possessions. Nate Pryor had a Nate to Nate dish that resulted in Roberts getting fouled and making both free throws to tie the game at 11 with 10:19 remaining.
Neither team scored over the next 3 minutes as the calls started to go against the Huskies. Quade seemingly was fouled inside but instead called for a travel which resulted in a technical foul for arguing by Coach Hopkins. Those free throws became part of the Johnny Juzang show. Time and again UCLA got Juzang isolated on Quade Green, put on a hard screen, and allowed Juzang to pull up for a made jumper. He scored UCLA’s final 15 points of the half and no Bruin except for Juzang scored in the final 17 minutes. On what should have been the final possession of the half someone other than Johnny decided to shoot though and Erik Stevenson got the rebound with 5 seconds left, sprinted for the rim, and was able to beat the buzzer for a layup to bring the score closer at 26-20.
Juzang had a ridiculous 21 of UCLA’s 26 points on 8/13 shooting while the rest of the Bruins were 2/12 from the floor and 0/5 from the free throw line. Washington’s offense had plenty of struggles as they shot just 31% from the floor and Nate Roberts surprisingly led the team in scoring with 6 points.
The Bruins came out from the locker room and ended the non-Juzang scoring drought as Tyger Campbell hit a runner. Erik Stevenson became the focus over the next several possessions as he missed a layup, got a steal, missed a wild transition layup over the backboard, then committed a reach foul. The last of those got him immediately pulled for Tsohonis yet again.
Fortunately Marcus Tsohonis pulled off his best Johnny Juzang impression in the second half. He drained a trio of 3-pointers in quick succession with the last 2 coming from the exact same spot on the floor. Immediately after Cole Bajema got a long defensive rebound and found Quade Green streaking past the defense for an easy layup to tie the game at 34-34.
Washington just didn’t know how to handle success yet again though as UCLA caught fire. David Singleton hit consecutive 3-pointers and after a Juzang midrange jumper Cody Riley backed down Cole Bajema for an easy layup. That 10-0 run took just 2 minutes for the Bruins.
The Huskies weren’t done fighting yet though. Washington missed layup after layup but their defense was just good enough to allow them to chip away at the lead. Marcus Tsohonis hit another 3-pointer with 8 minutes left to bring the Huskies back to within a few at 51-48. After a UCLA transition 3, Hameir Wright drove to the basket, was fouled, and made the free throw to complete the 3-point play and bring the Dawgs back within one possession.
Finally, a Marcus Tsohonis corner 3 fell which tied the game at 57 with 2:40 remaining in the game. Each team seemingly got a bit of the jitters as UW’s Tsohonis and UCLA’s Riley traded travels on consecutive possessions. The Huskies went man on defense and UCLA got Quade Green switched onto Juzang who backed him down and pulled up for an easy midrange jumper with the size mismatch to bring UCLA back up by 4. Marcus Tsohonis missed a 3-pointer but Nate Roberts got the offensive rebound in traffic, kicked it back out, and Erik Stevenson hit just his 2nd shot of the game to bring it to 61-60 with 40 seconds left.
Washington played great denial defense but Jules Bernard pulled up for a contested jump shot with his toe on the line and it swished thorough to give UCLA a 3-point lead. The Bruins opted to foul as Mick Cronin ran to half court to tell his players. Quade Green was fouled on the floor with 5 seconds left and made the first but missed the 2nd hoping for a tip-in. The Huskies didn’t get it but fouled Cody Riley who had been 0/4 from the free throw line on the night. He made the first but missed the second and the rebound went to Green who got it with about 3 seconds left. Quade sprinted down court and got off a 30-foot heave that hit the rim but didn’t go down securing another defeat for the Dawgs.
Johnny Juzang finished with exactly half of UCLA’s points with 32 of their 64. Marcus Tsohonis did his best impression finishing 6/9 on 3-pt attempts and leading Washington with 22 points; all in the 2nd half. Quade Green was the only other Husky in double figures with 14 as Jamal Bey and Erik Stevenson finished the game a combined 4/18 from the floor.
Washington will look back and lament a cavalcade of missed contested layups. The Huskies tried to be aggressive and put up shots in the trees but almost never got them to fall and never got the benefit of the doubt from the refs. Washington finished just 11/37 on 2-pt shots and had to have shot worse than 35% within 5 feet of the rim. At the same time the only reason the game was close was because of UCLA’s free throw woes. They ended up an appallingly bad 6/18 from the charity stripe including multiple misses on the front end of 1-and 1’s. The Dawgs weren’t great themselves but 9/14 was better than 33% at least.
This is the 2nd consecutive opponent the Huskies held under 70 points after not achieving that feat in the previous 11 games. Washington only gave up 5 offensive rebounds which was an impressive effort given how this season has gone but UCLA shot 10 of 20 on deep to keep pace with the Huskies’ 10 of 21 3-pt shooting.
Washington gets their 3rd game in 5 days as they next return to play at Washington State on Monday night at 5p PT. That game was moved forward in order to allow for the possibility of a COVID make-up game with Arizona State in the final week of the year.