Considering the circumstances, Washington’s 81-80 defeat felt as if the Huskies lost much more than a game in front of 9,476 at Coors Events Center. With four weeks remaining before Selection Sunday, the loss dealt another serious blow to UW’s NCAA tournament hopes.
BOULDER, Colo. — Because the Huskies floundered in the first 32 minutes, they needed last-second heroics from Andrew Andrews to bail them out if they were going to beat Colorado.
He’s done it several times before.
In fact, Andrews buried the Buffaloes last year with a long jumper that splashed through the net with 0.3 seconds left.
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The circumstances were nearly identical Saturday in front of 9,476 at Coors Events Center, but this time the score wasn’t tied and the Washington men’s basketball team trailed by a point.
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Once again, the Huskies put the ball in the hands of their senior leader. And just like before, he got a good look from 17 feet out.
But his long jumper rattled out of the rim with five seconds remaining and Washington absorbed a heartbreaking 81-80 setback — its third straight loss.
“I thought it was going in,” Andrews said. “Right when it came off I thought it was going in.
“I was wide open. I think I got the separation I needed. I just missed the shot.”
It was one of several missed opportunities in the final minutes for the Huskies, who trailed by 15 points with 7:38 left before making one final push.
Down 72-57, Andrews scored 11 of his 18 points in the final six minutes as Washington closed the game with a 23-9 run.
During the comeback bid, he sank two three-pointers, converted a three-point play and canned a pair of free throws that proved to be the game’s final points with 56 seconds left.
On UW’s ensuing possession, Tacoma native Tre’Shaun Fletcher stole Dejounte Murray’s pass, but Colorado failed to convert at the other end.
Murray (14 points) had a chance to give UW a lead with 11 seconds left but his running jumper rolled out. The Huskies got the offensive rebound, setting up Andrews’ last shot.
“I thought we got great looks at the basket,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Said Colorado forward Wesley Gordon: “We knew the ball was going to him. We just didn’t want it to happen again. We didn’t want last year, Part II.”
After Andrews’ miss, Gordon collected the rebound and the Huskies fouled him to send him to the line. He missed the first attempt and intentionally threw the next one off the glass before Marquese Chriss collected the rebound and called time out.
Down a point with one second on the clock, Matisse Thybulle (16 points) stood beneath the basket and threw an inbounds pass to Chriss at the opposite end. The ball sailed high and landed out of bounds.
It wasn’t a must-win game for the Huskies but it felt like it. With four weeks remaining before Selection Sunday, the loss dealt another serious blow to UW’s NCAA tournament hopes.
After their win over Colorado last month, the Huskies were the surprise darlings in the Pac-12 and led the conference with a 5-1 record. They were seemingly poised to break their five-year NCAA tournament drought.
Since then, the Huskies are 2-7 and would be 0-9 if not for a two-point win at UCLA and an overtime victory against Arizona State.
The latest setback dropped Washington (15-10) out of a three-way tie for fourth in the conference and into seventh place at 7-6.
“If we’re talking the NCAA tournament, (then) we’ve got to finish strong,” Romar said. “We don’t have a lot of margin for error at this point.”
The Huskies wasted a golden opportunity to collect a road win against a short-handed Colorado team that was missing its best player in star forward Josh Scott, who was nursing an ankle injury.
Despite the absence of the 6-10 senior forward who averages 16.7 points and 9.1 rebounds, the Buffaloes took control early and led 46-34 at halftime. They dominated inside and enjoyed a 55-35 rebounding advantage.
Gordon finished with a career-high 17 points and 13 rebounds for Colorado (19-7, 8-5) while guard George King had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Backup guard Josh Fortune chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds.
“I’m a glass-half-full guy, but the first half killed us,” Romar said. “We did not put forth the type of effort in the first half that we did in the second half.
“You just can’t do that with so much at stake.”