After the Huskies were outscored 8-0 in the final minute against Arizona State on Thursday night they were certainly hoping for better late game luck in Tucson. That didn’t materialize as Azoulas Tubelis capped off a dominant outing with a long corner jumper that swished through with 5 seconds left and Quade Green’s desperate 3-point heave was well short of the rim. Hameir Wright’s career high 18 points went all for naught as the Wildcats narrowly won 75-74. Washington finishes the regular season 5-20 (4-16) and will have a 10 day break before the start of the Pac-12 tournament.
Washington’s offense got off to a rough start before Quade Green poked the ball away from James Akinjo and got it ahead to Erik Stevenson for the fast break dunk and UW’s first points. On defense Washington tried to pack the paint to counteract Arizona’s size advantage and the Wildcats took the space given to them to attempt jump shots. Fortunately they were off target early as Arizona missed their first 7 shots from behind the arc.
Nate Roberts was called for 2 fouls away from the ball while fighting for position on defense and took a seat for the rest of the half after 5 minutes. Riley Sorn came in and gave some nice minutes in reserve but was also called almost immediately for a pair of fouls as well. After just 6 minutes Arizona held a 6-0 foul advantage with 5 of those coming against the UW bigs. But Erik Stevenson managed a nifty bounce pass to Sorn who reached low and dunked it to put the Huskies up 15-12 with 10:12 left in the half.
Arizona finally hit a 3-point attempt and took advantage of Washington’s sloppiness on offense to pull off a quick 7-0 run and reclaim the lead. Over the next 7 minutes the Huskies managed to never let Arizona pull away as the game stayed within 3 points. In the final minute of the half though Azuloas Tubelis managed to get a pair of putbacks as part of his domination on the glass which gave Arizona a 33-27 lead. Quade Green managed to get fouled and sank both free throws to make it 33-29 at halftime.
Rebounds were the clear story of the game at the half as Arizona held a 10-0 advantage on offensive rebounds to hold a lead despite shooting worse than 30% for much of the half.
The second half couldn’t have gotten out to much of a better start. Hameir Wright started it off with a 3-pointer and after a shot clock violation by Arizona Quade Green got an and-1 layup to fall and put UW out in front 35-33. Unfortunately Washington’s communication and interior defense collapsed as it seemed Arizona repeatedly had a wide open man under the hoop after the Huskies tried to double the ball handler. An Arizona dunk with 15:54 left put the Wildcats up by 6 and prompted Hop to take a timeout.
With UW trailing by 8 Hameir Wright hit another 3-pointer and got a steal but the Huskies couldn’t score and Wright didn’t get the charge call on the other end leading to an easy dunk for Arizona. Wright hit another 3-pointer to pull the Huskies within 4 but Arizona answered with a quick 5-0 run to make it a 9 point lead at 54-45 with 12 minutes left.
That would be the most Arizona led by for the rest of the game. Hameir hit his career high 5th 3-pointer of the game and got fouled but missed the free throw to just pull UW within 4 points. Washington’s defense couldn’t stop fouling though and Arizona made their first 16 free throw attempts to make it hard for the Huskies to close the gap. Finally though Quade Green’s scoop shot layup attempt hit the bottom of the backboard and fell right into Jamal Bey’s hands for an and-1 that tied the game at 61 and gave the Huskies their first 2nd chance points of the entire game.
Arizona had some wide open shots on the perimeter with Washington trying to pack the paint but couldn’t convert while Marcus Tsohonis hit a few big shots in a row after the Wildcats opened back up a 4 point advantage. Nate Roberts ended up fouling out with 4:30 remaining when he got switched onto James Akinjo in space. Hameir Wright joined him on the bench 2 minutes later when he hedged a little too hard on Akinjo away from the basket for his 5th foul forcing Riley Sorn to play center the rest of the way.
Erik Stevenson drove from the corner for a contested layup to give the Huskies a 71-70 lead and then after getting fouled on a defensive rebound knocked down 1 of 2 free throws to extend it to 72-20 with 1:24 remaining. James Akinjo answered though with a quick 3-pointer to give Arizona back the lead. Quade Green overdribbled into traffic but got his feet tangled and Arizona was called for a trip and Green hit both free throws to reclaim a 74-73 UW lead.
Akinjo tried to be the hero again and drove into a wall of defenders but missed the layup and Jamal Bey came down with the rebound. With a chance to put the game out of reach, the Huskies cleared out for Quade Green in isolation late in the shot clock but with 18 seconds left he drove into his defenders’ chest with his arm extended and was called for a charge. Akinjo again drove into the lane but this time whipped to the corner for Azoulas Tubelis who took his first shot outside the paint all day and swished it through.
After an official’s review they determined his foot was on the line so it was just a 2-pointer and the lead was 75-74 Arizona with 5.2 seconds left. Unfortunately despite a Mike Hopkins timeout the Huskies didn’t have a better play than have Quade dribble down the length of the court and heave up an off balance 3-pointer which had no chance.
Washington again kept a tight rotation despite the foul trouble and 5 Dawgs ended up in double figures led by Wright’s career high 18 on 5/6 3-pt shooting. Quade Green had 17 points on 9/9 free throw shooting but his 4 turnovers were costly. Marcus Tsohonis finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds while Erik Stevenson had 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Jamal Bey finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds but with 4 turnovers and on 0/3 3-point shooting.
Against a goliath sized Arizona team though the story was ultimately about UW’s inability to compete in the trenches. Husky centers Nate Roberts and Riley Sorn combined for 3 points and 2 rebounds while Azoulas Tubelis had 16 points and 15 rebounds for Arizona and wing Benedict Mathurin had 10 points and 13 rebounds. The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 41-29 (better than the 59-30 from the first game) and had 13 offensive rebounds. James Akinjo finished with a game high 26 points plus 7 assists for Arizona. Both teams ended up shooting 24 free throws but the Huskies made 18 to Arizona’s 21 which in a 1-point game ended up being the deciding factor.
Obviously it would’ve felt better for the Huskies to pull out the victory but for after the disastrous performance on Tuesday night it’s encouraging that Washington was at least tied in the final minute in back-to-back road games. And while Hameir Wright never ended up being the player that Husky fans wanted him to be it was great to see him have one more great shooting night before the end of his UW career.
Unless Cal beats Oregon later today the Huskies will enter the Pac-12 tournament as the #10 seed since Arizona is ineligible due to a postseason ban. That means they’ll face the #7 seed which will likely end up being the winner of today’s Arizona State/Washington State game. Although ASU, WSU, and Utah are all tied in the win column for that 7th place in the standings so depending on how the final few games shake out it could be any of them.
Now Washington gets a week and a half long break before that game and the end of their season.