It seemed like a particularly poor omen that the Huskies, entering on a 4-game losing streak, had the start of this game delayed 30+ minutes due to a faulty basket that needed to be completely replaced. It led to a late night but turned out not to be a sign of things to come as Washington rallied in the 2nd half and overcome Oregon 72-71 in overtime. Keyon Menifield had a career high 27 points to go along with 6 assists and 5 rebounds as Washington improved to 14-13 (6-10) on the season.
After missing their first 11 shots on Saturday in Pullman the Huskies got off to a slightly better start tonight. Keyon Menifield hit a tough midrange jumper over the outstretched arms of N’Faly Dante to put the Huskies up 2-0 right away. Oregon answered with a 3-pointer from 7-footer Nate Bittle but neither offense got into a rhythm after their quick starts.
The Ducks managed to get fouled and get second chance opportunities but struggled to convert. That allowed Washington to open up a 10-7 lead as Oregon went scoreless over 4 minutes. Braxton Meah left the game to get some rest for the first time though and the Ducks immediately went on an 8-0 run with Jackson Grant in the game instead to reclaim the lead.
Koren Johnson ended the run getting a steal and showing some nifty handles followed by a niftier pass in transition to find Keion Brooks Jr. for a thunderous dunk. On the next possession he kept it going hitting an open 3-pointer following a press break and tied it back up at 15.
Oregon made the most of their twin towers lineups as both starting bigs had rim rocking dunks as part of a 6-0 run to go back up 21-17 on the Dawgs. From there Braxton Meah drew the 2nd foul on both Nate Bittle and Quincy Guerrier securing rebounds with a dunk in between. Then shortly after he stole the ball in transition and followed it up with a lob dunk going the other way to tie it back up at 21.
Neither team was able to extend a lead for a while as they traded baskets with UW up 28-27. The Huskies finally broke through with consecutive scores as Braxton Meah for at least the 5th time this year took advantage of an opponent’s lane violation and made a pair of free throws with 44 seconds left in the half. The Ducks though got a runner to fall before Keion Brooks Jr. missed a long 2 just before the break so UW went into half up 30-29. Braxton Meah led the way with 12 points on 4 shot attempts.
The Ducks’ shooting got on track out of halftime as Jermiane Cousinard made his first two 3-point attempts. Cole Bajema scored his first points of the night on a 3-pointer in between but then things fell apart. Braxton Meah was called for 3 fouls in the span of 2 minutes to give him 4 total and stick him on the bench. The foul shot following the final one gave Oregon their largest lead of the night at 41-35. Jackson Grant came in and got to the free throw line but promptly missed both attempts.
Quincy Guerrier took over the hot hand from Cousinard for Oregon and made back-to-back 3’s to help push the Duck lead out to 8. Keyon Menifield though wasn’t willing to give up and pushed the ball in transition a few times for 4 points to make it 50-46. Following an Oregon basket Jamal Bey scored his first points on a corner 3 and then Keyon Menifield went 1v3 in transition finishing with an up and under layup. The basket cut the score to 52-51 with 8:31 left and forced a Dana Altman timeout to cut down the crowd noise.
Keion Brooks Jr. got to the line with a chance to give the Huskies the lead but instead missed both. After a Nate Bittle tip-in Brooks again an open jumper in the point which made Coach Hopkins realize he had to bring Braxton Meah in the game. Before a stoppage though Bittle got yet another putback and so Washington trailed by 5 with Meah re-entering and 6:30 remaining.
The freshmen had a chance to bring the Huskies back over the next few minutes. Both Keyon Menifield and Koren Johnson (twice) got wide open 3-point attempts that could’ve cut the margin to within 2 points but both missed. Meanwhile, Noah Williams exited the game coming up a little gimpy and headed back to the locker room.
Keion Brooks came up huge though blocking a midrange shot leading to a runout where Brooks converted a layup through contact and made the free throw for the old fashioned 3-point play. Washington pressured and forced a throwaway but neither ref looking right at it saw that and they called it a jump ball although the arrow was pointing towards Washington. Keyon Menifield came up much bigger than his frame as he rebounded a Koren Johnson airballed then got it back in the corner and made a 3-pointer over 7-foot Nate Bittle to put the Huskies in front 61-60.
Will Richardson threw up a prayer to avoid a shot clock violation and Nate Bittle secured the jump ball rebound and put it back in to give Oregon the lead back. Menifield just went back to work though hitting yet another 3-pointer to put UW up 64-62 with 40 seconds left. On defense, Braxton Meah bit on a pump fake by Will Richardson and he bounced it to N’Faly Dante who had an uncontested game-tying dunk with 13 seconds left.
Keyon Menifield rightly asked for the ball and got off a potential game-winning 3 but it came up short. Keion Brooks grabbed the rebound and barely had time to launch an off balance buzzer beating prayer but it was well short and so the game headed to overtime tied at 64.
Menifield got right back on the horse hitting a midrange jumper to start off the extra period. Oregon answered with a 3 and stole a lazy Jamal Bey pass. Fortunately they chose to dribble it back out rather than go for a 1v1 layup and it UW was able to recover and get a steal after a fortunate no-call when Braxton Meah seemingly pushed Will Richardson in the back. The Huskies got the ball up the court and Koren Johnson got the wide open layup to put UW back on top 68-67.
On consecutive possessions Braxton Meah blocked or altered a shot to close out a possession but Keion Brooks wasn’t ready for the ball and let a pass go off his hands out of bounds with no one around him. It bit Washington in the butt as N’Faly Dante got an offensive rebound and powered through Braxton Meah for a basket to put Oregon in front again with just over 90 seconds remaining.
Oregon chose to take the ball out of Menifield’s hands and he said okay. He threw up a lob over double coverage and Brooks finished the slam to put the Huskies in front. Of course though Oregon just threw bodies at the offensive glass on their possession and Dante managed another putback. Jamal Bey was the unlikely savior driving the ball without passing and making the layup to put UW up 72-71. Will Richardson tried to answer with a layup of his own but it hit the bottom of the rim.
Menifield ended up with his career high 27 points on a ridiculous 11/15 shooting. Braxton Meah didn’t attempt a shot or a free throw after halftime but ended up with 8 rebounds and 4 blocks to go along with his 12 early points. Keion Brooks again struggled from the floor but had a few easy dunk opportunities to still get to 14 points. Koren Johnson was the only other Husky with more than 5 points, finishing with 9 points (3/10 shooting) plus 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and some great defense.
Oregon finished with 18 offensive rebounds and took 11 more shots than Washington but the Huskies somehow won the turnover battle and made 4 more free throws. UW also finished with more assists than Oregon which has to be the first time this season against a real opponent that UW has had both more assists and fewer turnovers than the other team.
A win over Oregon is always nice but it’s particularly sweet given that Oregon absolutely needed this win to keep their hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament alive. Now they will at a minimum need to win out and make the Pac-12 tournament finals to even be in the running. Washington would of course prefer to be in contention rather than playing spoiler but things are what they are. The players haven’t given up hope though and the potential development of Menifield and Meah next season provides a glimmer of excitement among the backdrop of the current state of UW hoops.
Washington continues their brief homestand playing the 11th place Beavers on Saturday night looking to avenge a loss in Corvallis when Braxton Meah was out and Kepnang tore his ACL partway through the game.