Isaiah Thomas' potential game-winning three-pointer barely left his hands before 6-foot-8 David Loubeau swatted it away, sending the Huskies home with a 63-62 defeat.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Isaiah Thomas sat on the court stunned, staring in disbelief while the Texas A&M Aggies danced around him.
His potential game-winning shot just inside the three-point line barely left his hands before 6-foot-8 David Loubeau swatted it away, sending the Huskies home with a 63-62 defeat.
It was another block for A&M, which dominated inside and finished with five rejections.
And it was another missed opportunity for Washington to prove it belongs among the elite teams in the nation.
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“Maybe they’re shocked and disappointed and at the same time (thinking) how did this happen?” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We really realized that we’re disappointed in ourselves. I think guys really understand that we were our worst enemy tonight.”
As poorly as the Huskies played at times, they fought back after trailing 61-51 with 5:26 remaining.
Romar relied on an odd lineup that included Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs, Darnell Gant and Matthew Bryan-Amaning to make its late-game charge.
“We were a little bigger,” said Gaddy who sank two free throws to pull UW to 63-62 with 1:33 remaining. “We could match up a little better with them and keep them off the boards.”
The final 93 seconds seemed like an eternity.
Khris Middleton, who finished with a game-high 17 points, missed a three-pointer and Washington took possession with 1:12 left.
Suggs misfired on a layup but Wilcox got the rebound and Romar called a timeout with 35 seconds left. Before play resumed, he called another timeout, UW’s last.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with how we went back out there,” Romar said. “Fortunately we got an open look.”
Romar designed a play for Wilcox, whose shot hit the front of the rim and bounced out of bounds with 17 seconds left.
Thomas gave Washington another shot when he stripped Nathan Walkup in the backcourt, raced across halfcourt, and briefly surveyed his options before trying to launch a shot as time was expiring.
“I tried to make a play,” said Thomas, who finished with a team-high 13 points and six turnovers. “But time was running out. I looked up and there was a second and a half left. If I passed it, my teammate wouldn’t have got off a shot.”
Loubeau swallowed Thomas’ attempt and raced off the court clutching the basketball.
“I knew he wasn’t going to pass,” said Loubeau, who finished with 15 points. “Everyone wants to be a hero. He didn’t have a lot of time so I extended my right hand and I got it.”
The questions that hounded the Huskies after two defeats in Hawaii resurfaced Saturday in front of 10,296 at Reed Arena and an ESPN2 audience.
Can Washington execute a half-court offense in the final minutes?
What happens when the three-pointers don’t fall?
And will the rebounding ever improve?
“We were soft today,” Gant said. “We got to be tougher inside, me and Matt. We got to match Aziz’s (D’Niaye, UW’s leading rebounder with seven) effort. We didn’t come up with enough rebounds today.”
Perhaps the prevailing question for the Huskies, who dropped to 6-3 and will likely fall out of the rankings Monday, is can they beat a good team?
Washington was explosive and dynamic in six wins against mediocre competition and averaged a nation’s best 95.5 points per game.
Against two ranked teams in Michigan State and Kentucky and an A&M squad that improved to 9-1, the Huskies are 0-3, losing by a combined 13 points and averaging 66.7 points.
“It’s the little things that’s separating us from being great,” said Gaddy, who had 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting. “When we’re playing the not-so-good teams, we’re basically playing against ourselves. But when we play good teams we got to buckle down.
“We got to do the little things. We can’t turn the ball over and (not) rebound. That’s the main thing. We got to win the war on the boards.”
UW had as many turnovers (20) as field goals.
The Huskies tied the Aggies with 23 defensive rebounds, but A&M finished with 16 offensive boards while UW had 10.
The Aggies had more second-chance points (18-7) and points inside (34-18).
Washington returns to Seattle to face San Francisco on Saturday and Nevada on Dec. 22 before beginning the Pac-10 season.
“We got some things we need to clean up,” Gant said. “But we got two more games before the Pac-10 and I promise you, we’ll fix it.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
Percentages: FG .377, FT 1.000. Three-point goals: 6-22, .273 (Wilcox 3-8, Overton 1-1, Gant 1-3, Thomas 1-4, Suggs 0-1, Gaddy 0-1, Bryan-Amaning 0-1, Holiday 0-1, Ross 0-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 3 (Bryan-Amaning, Gaddy, Overton). Turnovers: 20 (Thomas 6, Bryan-Amaning 4, Gaddy 3, Gant 2, Holiday 2, Suggs, Wilcox, Overton). Steals: 9 (Holiday 2, Bryan-Amaning 2, Wilcox, N’Diaye, Ross, Thomas, Suggs). Technical fouls: None.
|TEXAS A&M (9-1)|
Percentages: FG .411, FT .680. Three-point goals: 0-8, .000 (Harris 0-1, Holmes 0-2, Darko 0-2, Middleton 0-3). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 5 (R. Turner 3, Loubeau, Roberson). Turnovers: 18 (Harris 4, Middleton 4, Walkup 3, Hibbert 2, Roberson, R. Turner, Darko, Holmes, Loubeau). Steals: 10 (Holmes 3, Middleton 2, Roberson, Hibbert, Harris, Darko, Loubeau). Technical fouls: Harris, Dash.
Attendance: 10,296. Officials: Mike Stuart, Rick Randall, Lee Cassell.