The Cougars' late 15-0 run doesn't do the trick as UW advances to play Oregon at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the Pac-12 tournament.
LAS VEGAS — It might not have been an instant classic, but Washington and Washington State waged a hoops battle Wednesday night that will not be soon forgotten.
The Huskies squandered a 19-point lead in the second half, but managed to barely hold on to a 64-62 victory in the first round of the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament.
After Desmond Simmons gave Washington the lead with 1:17 left, and Brock Motum missed a three-pointer with three seconds left, C.J. Wilcox needed to track down a long inbound pass from Simmons to preserve the victory.
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It looked as if the basketball would sail beyond his reach, but he chased it down and ran out the clock.
“We dodged a bullet,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We’re fortunate to be moving on.”
With the victory, the Huskies keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive and run their winning streak against their in-state rival to six games.
No. 6 seed Washington (18-14) faces No. 3 Oregon (23-8) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals.
“Another day to play,” said guard Abdul Gaddy, who delivered 11 assists and had nine points. “That’s how we’ve been playing coming into this game. It could have been potentially our last game.
“But we were like, ‘Man, we don’t want this to be our last game.’ “
Playing the final game of opening day of the Pac-12 tourney, the Huskies started fast, went cold after building a 52-33 lead and managed to hold off a hard charge from the Cougars.
“It’s the hardest thing when you’re up (19 points) and you’ve got so much time left,” Gaddy said. “When they tied the game, the main thing was to calm ourselves and get the best shot available.”
Motum, who scored 28 points, led the comeback but it was senior guard Royce Woolridge who tied the game at 62-62 on a layup with 2:49 left. His basket capped a 15-0 run for the Cougars.
Meanwhile Washington was stuck in a scoring drought.
With Wilcox (11 points) struggling through a 3-for-11 shooting performance and the Cougars smothering Scott Suggs, who scored a team-high 19 points, Gaddy found Simmons underneath the rim for a basket with 1:17 left.
“I knew initially we look for C.J. and Scott because those are the guys in that situation that we try to give the game-winning shot to,” Simmons said. “But you got to be ready. I was ready for that shot if it got to me.”
Simmons floated in the layup, which was Washington’s only field goal in the final 8:35 of the game.
The Cougars had one last chance with 14 seconds left.
Motum rubbed off a screen and the 6-foot-10 forward had 6-3 Andrew Andrews blocking his path to the basket.
The WSU forward tried to draw a foul on a quick shot attempt, but Andrews pulled away and the ball hit the front of the rim.
The Cougars received 19 points from D.J. Shelton and 12 from Woolridge.
“I remembered he did the same thing against Dez (in Pullman), so I kind of thought he’d try that again,” Andrews said.
Considering the Cougars entered the game with momentum, their performance was another setback in a season filled with disappointment.
They were riding a two-game winning streak while the Huskies stumbled into the postseason following a defeat last Saturday in the regular-season finale.
However, it was the Cougars who came out flat.
Now they enter an uncertain offseason after a 12-19 campaign.
It’s their first losing season under coach Ken Bone and the worst since 2006, when WSU was 11-17.
Bone has come under fire, and it remains to be seen if he’ll return.
WSU owes him $2.5 million for the remaining three years on a seven-year deal he signed when hired in 2009.
“I would hope that we would get better from what we have experienced this year, but I’m not sure yet because this season just ended,” Bone said. “We will get there, though.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @percyallen
|WASHINGTON STATE 62|
Percentages: FG .460, FT .857. Three-point goals: 10-27, (Motum 5-8, Shelton 2-8, Ladd 0-2, Woolridge 2-5, Kernich-Drew 0-2, DiIorio 1-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 1, (Shelton). Turnovers: 11, (Motum 3, Woolridge 4, Kernich-Drew 3, Longrus). Steals: 6, (Shelton 2, Ladd 2, DiIorio 2).
Percentages: FG .480, FT .727. Three-point goals: 8-19, (Gaddy 1-5, Suggs 4-6, Wilcox 2-6, Andrews 1-2). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 3, (Kemp, N’Diaye 2). Turnovers: 11, (Kemp 3, N’Diaye, Gaddy 2, Suggs 2, Wilcox, Andrews, Simmons). Steals: 4, (N’Diaye, Gaddy, Suggs, Wilcox).
Attendance: 8,566. Officials: Tony Padilla, Michael Irving, Kurt Walker. Technical fouls: Washington State-None. Washington-None.