Normally when you score 19 points in the final 3 minutes of the game it means that you’re going to win the game. Unfortunately a torrid end for the #10 seeded Huskies wasn’t quite good enough due to the deep hole they dug for themselves as #7 Utah prevailed 98-95 in the 1st round of the Pac-12 tournament. Quade Green finished with a career high 31 points for the Dawgs in what was likely the final game of his college career. It also ended as the highest scoring game in Pac-12 Tournament history. The loss ends Washington’s season with a final record of 5-21 (4-17).
It turned out to be a sign of things to come when on the first possession of the game Utah had a shooter left wide open at the 3-point line and calmly knocked it down. Washington countered with some nice shooting of their own though as Hameir Wright hit his first 3-pointer then Bey made one on his second chance to put the Huskies up 8-6 after 3 minutes.
Unfortunately, that would be Washington’s last lead of the game. Hameir Wright fouled Alfonso Plummer closing out on a 3-point shot and he still knocked it down for a 4-point play. That marked the beginning of a 20-2 run for Utah over the next 5 minutes as the Utes hit their next four 3’s in a row and almost all of them were wide open as Washington’s defense completely fell apart.
The Husky offense during that stretch wasn’t much better. The miscues included Nate Roberts bobbling a bounce pass that should’ve been a dunk, Tsohonis airballing a 3-pointer, and Tsohonis thinking he was fouled and forcing up a shot without getting the call. The only UW basket came when Quade threw up a lob for Nate Roberts and he banked it in off the backboard while in the air.
Eventually though the Huskies managed to slowly pick things up on the offensive end. Their outside shooting abandoned them as the Dawgs didn’t hit a 3-pointer in the final 17 minutes of the half so they took the ball inside. Quade Green and Jamal Bey combined for layups on 3 consecutive possessions and shortly after Tsohonis hit a little hook shot of his own for 8 quick points in the paint.
Utah’s outside shot stopped falling with quite the same frequency but they were able to make a killing at the free throw line. Hameir Wright jumped way too early and clobbered a Ute inside for his 3rd foul which sent him to the bench with 8:39 left in the half. Then on the offensive end both Tsohonis and Green were called for charges on what otherwise would’ve been layups to help Utah get in the bonus and take points off the board for UW.
After a transition 3 by the trailer put Utah up 38-23 with 7 minutes left the Huskies were able to make a mini-run. Riley Sorn came into the game and his length seemingly flustered Utah inside as he challenged several shots. Quade Green was able to hit Cole Bajema on a nice bounce pass in transition to cut it to 9 and prompt a Utah timeout. Coming out of the break Green dove on the floor and managed to win the scramble and throw it from his backside to Sorn who was suddenly open under the rim for a dunk to close it to 40-33 with 2:55 left in the half.
Unfortunately, the Husky defense couldn’t quite keep it up for another few minutes. Timmy Allen hit a midrange jumper for Utah and then the Huskies lost track of a Utah shooter on the perimeter who knocked down the 3-pointer and pushed it back out to a 12-point Utes lead. Erik Stevenson spun for a layup but Timmy Allen hit a short floater over Jamal Bey just before the buzzer and it was 47-35 Utah at halftime.
Jamal Bey came out of the half and quickly got a layup but things fell apart for Washington from there. Quade Green had a rough few minutes as the Utes hit a pair of 3-pointers in Quade’s face. On the other end Green missed badly on a pair of quick 3’s of his own and had a turnover which led to a dunk for Utah. Just like that and Utah was back on top by 16 points.
The Huskies made a half-hearted attempt at a run shortly after. Erik Stevenson dished it to Nate Roberts trailing in transition who skied for a thunderous one-handed dunk. Then after Utah missed a wide open 3-pointer Stevenson raced downcourt and pulled up for a 3 of his own which went in to close the gap to 60-50. After another Utah miss Jamal Bey was fouled on the floor but on the inbounds play Hameir Wright was called for an illegal screen which was his 4th of the game to end any momentum the Huskies had.
Quade Green again tried to take over for Washington on offense and it mostly worked. He had 10 of the Huskies’ next 11 points over a 4-minute span including a pair of deep 3-pointers. Unfortunately UW actually slightly lost ground during that period because the Utah offense continued to find wide open looks on the perimeter and knock them down. Alfonso Plummer ran off a screen and canned his 5th 3-pointer of the game to put Utah up 85-66 with 5:50 left in the game.
Washington’s offense did their best to make it interesting in the closing minutes. The Huskies scored on 7 consecutive possessions including a pair of 3’s and a dunk by Jamal Bey. The Dawgs put on a full-court press and it seemingly flustered Utah a little bit. They turned it over on multiple possessions in the final minute and a pair of free throws by Quade Green brought the Huskies within 7 at 95-88 with 45 seconds left.
After Utah missed the front end of a 1-and-1 it looked like Cole Bajema had a wide open dunk. But Ian Martinez came up with a phenomenal block from behind and made a pair of free throws at the other end. Bajema though hit a ridiculous prayer of a contested 3-pointer with less than a second left to bring the final margin to just 3 and secure a crazy backdoor cover for UW.
Green’s career high 31 points on 10/18 shooting is bittersweet as it was likely part of his final moments in a Husky uniform. Obviously his stint as a Dawg didn’t quite go the way he envisioned but he fought through the academic ineligibility of last season and gave his all on the court to try to win games for Washington this season. That sometimes meant pressing and the resulting turnovers often hurt the team but in games like this one you wished you could get this kind of play all the time from him. Thanks for your time as a Husky, Quade.
It was also likely the final UW game for Hameir Wright who was hampered by foul trouble but finished the game with 9 points on 3/6 3-pt shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. He never quite lived up to expectations but was an essential glue guy and is someone many fans will be surprised to find out how much he’s missed on the court next season because of his ability to defend multiple positions.
The Huskies ended up shooting 11/28 from deep after an abysmal start to the game but it still couldn’t keep pace with Utah’s 14/26 shooting night. Most of the time I would call it unlucky to have a team shoot like that against you but the vast majority of those looks were open for Utah and props to them for knocking them down. The Utes also went 20/27 from the free throw line but many of those misses were late in the game to keep the outcome almost in doubt.
This ended up being one of the few games all season that the Huskies won both the turnover battle and the rebounding edge but they couldn’t overcome Utah’s red-hot shooting despite the possession advantage.
Jamal Bey (18 pts, 5 reb), Erik Stevenson (14 pts, 5 ast, 4 reb), and Nate Roberts (10 pts, 6 reb) all also hit double figures for Washington who kept a fairly tight rotation. Marcus Tsohonis ended up the only Husky who really struggled on offense as he finished with 6 points on 3/7 shooting plus 3 turnovers while Cole Bajema had 5 points on 2/5 shooting but had 3 steals on the defensive end.
Timmy Allen finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists to lead Utah while Alfonso Plummer had 21 points on 6/11 3-point shooting.
Now that it’s officially the off-season, all eyes turn to a final decision about the UW coaching staff. Unless Jen Cohen has changed her mind it appears Mike Hopkins is safe for at least one more year but changes could easily be coming on the assistant staff. Washington has one 4-star recruit coming in for the fall in Jackson Grant but will likely try to be active in the transfer market this spring with Green and Wright expected to depart.
We’ll have plenty of season recap coverage coming out over the next few days and weeks.