Freshman guard Dejounte Murray led the way with 29 points, and Andrew Andrews tallied 24.
Andrew Andrews put it best 48 hours earlier when asked about the Huskies.
“We don’t stop,” he said.
The Washington men’s basketball team might want to silk screen that slogan on a T-shirt or make it its rallying cry.
Down 22 points midway in the second half and seemingly knocked out of Sunday afternoon’s game against USC, the Huskies pulled off a comeback for the ages.
Andrews capped the rally on a putback layup with 25 seconds left that gave the Huskies an improbable 87-85 victory and snapped the Trojans’ seven-game winning streak in front of a raucous crowd of 7,071 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
It was the largest comeback during coach Lorenzo Romar’s 14-year tenure at UW.
“I’m just so proud of our team,” he said. “They showed character and courage and resiliency today.”
You wouldn’t normally associate those words with a team that starts four freshmen and plays eight newcomers, but for the second straight outing the Huskies showed poise in the final minutes of a victory that could have postseason ramifications.
Washington, which hopes to snap a four-year NCAA tournament drought, improved to 10-4 overall and remained on top of the Pac-12 at 2-0.
“These wins are valuable not only in the win-loss column, but in terms of our own psyche and our own belief in ourselves,” Romar said. “There’s not a whole lot of situations where we can say we don’t have a chance.”
For the first 30 minutes, the Huskies looked as if they were still recovering from Friday’s double-overtime win over UCLA. They trailed 46-36 at halftime and were down 66-44 when the arena felt as quiet and somber as a morgue.
The only sound inside the building was Romar stomping on the sideline and frantically clapping while trying to pump some life into a listless team.
“We were just flat,” Romar said. “We were a step slow defensively. … I was trying to get us going because we were flat.”
Washington’s comeback began shortly after USC lost Julian Jacobs to an ankle injury. The high-flying junior guard had been sensational and flushed three dunks, including a highlight jam over Marquese Chriss.
Without Jacobs, who had 15 points, the Trojans were missing a ballhandler to combat UW’s pressure and relied solely on sophomore point guard Jordan McLaughlin (15 points).
“When he went down, we were able to corral McLaughlin and get someone else to bring it up and not get him in the offense,” Andrews said. “We turned up the tempo of the game when they wanted to slow it down.”
After falling behind by 22, the Huskies went on a 12-0 run to cut its deficit to 66-56 with 10:19 left. They fell behind by 13 points (71-58) with 8:45 remaining and were down 85-78 with 2:12 remaining.
The Huskies relied heavily on a defense that set a frenetic pace and forced 21 turnovers.
They also relied heavily on Dejounte Murray, who scored 20 of his career-high 29 points in the second half.
“It’s either going to go my way or it’s not,” said Murray, who also had five rebounds and three steals. “I just stay aggressive. My team believed in me and everything was falling.”
Murray had consecutive baskets during a 13-second stretch that brought UW to within a point in the final minute.
He was going so good that Andrews, the Pac-12 scoring leader who had 24 points, called the final play for the freshman guard.
“I know when somebody is going good, get them the ball,” Andrews said. “I called the play figuring if he’s going, everybody is going to (key) on him and I’ll go and get the rebound.”
Murray’s midrange jumper caromed off the rim before Andrews cleaned up the miss with a contested putback that gave UW’s its only lead in the second half.
Chriss, who had 12 rebounds, and David Crisp each added 13 points for Washington, which capped an eight-game homestand and plays three straight road games.
Andrews isn’t necessarily concerned about how the young Huskies will handle their first true road games considering the most recent outings.
“That’s two games back to back,” he said. “I don’t think we can say they’re growing up anymore. They’re grown now.”