Rather than go for an offensive rebound, Andrew Andrews admitted he began backpedaling downcourt after C.J. Wilcox released a three-pointer 22 feet away from the basket.
“Every time he shoots I think it’s going in, and sometimes I’ll get in trouble because he’ll shoot and I’ll just watch the ball and I’m supposed to crash,” Andrews said. “I just get mesmerized when he shoots because it’s so smooth.
“And when he shot that last shot, I started backing up. … He’s probably going to make it.”
Standing a few feet behind the arc, Wilcox squared up, rose up and drained a dagger of three-pointer with 44 seconds left that gave the Washington men’s basketball team an 80-76 victory over Oregon on Thursday night.
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“We made mistakes a couple of times on screens and he made us pay every time,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “And then he made the big shot late. He was the difference in the game, he was the best player on the floor, and he made us pay.”
Before Wilcox’s big basket, momentum had swung to Oregon, which cut UW’s seven-point advantage (70-63) to one (73-72) at the 1:12 mark. The 6,748 at Alaska Airlines Arena grew anxious in the seesaw battle that included 13 ties and nine lead changes. Neither team could build a lead of more than seven points.
Needing a basket, the Huskies turned to their fifth-year senior co-captain, the lone holdover from UW’s heyday when the Huskies advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2011.
Washington drew up a play for Wilcox to deliver him a lob at the basket. However, the Ducks cut off his route to the rim and forced him to the top of the key.
Still, 5-foot-8 Johnathan Loyd was no match for Wilcox, a 6-5 guard.
As the UW crowd chanted “6, 5, 4,” Wilcox rose over Loyd and buried his fifth three-pointer of the night.
“Those are the things that C.J., we expect him to do at this point,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “He’s not only a fifth-year senior, he’s one of the best shooters and one of the best guards in America.
“And when you’re one of those guys, they make those types of plays at the end.”
Wilcox scored 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half.
When asked about his final basket, he said: “At this point it’s just repetition. You’ve done it a million times. It’s just something that you’ve done before. In the gym. By yourself. You don’t really think about the pressure at the time. It’s just a shot that you know you can make, and you take it.”
Wilcox also finished with three assists, three blocks and three steals.
The Huskies (12-8, 4-3 Pac-12) snapped a two-game skid and broke a three-game losing streak to the Ducks.
Andrews (17 points) sealed the victory with a free throw that gave UW a four-point lead (80-76) with 5.2 seconds left. Perris Blackwell added 15 points.
It’s a fairly short turnaround for Washington, which plays Oregon State (11-7, 3-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“That was a huge win for us after dropping two on the road,” Romar said. “I’m really proud of our guys. We went out and competed.
“That’s a dangerous offensive team, and I thought our guys did a good job in not letting them go crazy on the three-point line.”
Oregon entered the game averaging 87.4 points, which ranked third nationally. The Ducks converted 4 of 15 three-pointers (26.7 percent) while Washington shot a season-high 57.8 percent from the field.
The Huskies trailed 35-33 at the break before outscoring the Ducks 47-41 in the second half.
Oregon fell to 13-5, 1-5 and lost its fifth straight game. The Ducks received 18 points from Joseph Young, while Jason Calliste and Richard Amardi each had 11.
“We just didn’t get the stops that we needed to get,” Altman said. “We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, we had some open looks that we didn’t knock down.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @percyallen