The Huskies fall to No. 12 Arizona in a key Pac-10 men's basketball game.

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Derrick Williams punched the ball away from Matthew Bryan-Amaning as time expired while simultaneously delivering a knockout blow to Washington’s hopes of winning a Pac-10 men’s basketball title.

On the previous play, Arizona’s sophomore star swatted Darnell Gant’s potential game-winner out of bounds with less than a second remaining, which proved to be the decisive defensive stand in the Huskies’ 87-86 loss Saturday afternoon.

“I thought it was goaltending,” Gant said. “I thought I got it up before he could get there. I thought the ball was coming down, but (the officials) called it the other way.”

With 0.2 seconds on the clock, the Huskies had one last desperate chance, but Williams poked Justin Holiday’s pass away.

While the stunned Huskies dropped their heads in disappointment, Williams ran to midcourt and dove on the floor, where he was smothered by his Arizona teammates.

The sellout crowd of 14,545 at the McKale Center serenaded Williams with chants of “M-V-P” and “One more year.”

“With games like this, it makes me want to stay,” said Williams, who many consider an NBA lottery pick if he decides to forgo his college eligibility. “It’s a great feeling right now. We are in first place, and we might be a top-10 team.”

Arizona (23-4, 12-2 Pac-10) moved 1 ½ games ahead of UCLA atop the Pac-10. Williams, who finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, furthered his case to win the conference’s Player of the Year award.

“The worst-case scenario for us to win is they’d have to lose every game,” Bryan-Amaning said. “Realistically, that isn’t going to happen with the way they have been playing.”

Washington (18-8, 10-5) needed a win to pull one-half game of the No. 12 Wildcats. After the defeat, the Huskies are 2 ½ games behind Arizona.

“We just need to take care of business and play strong,” said Bryan-Amaning, who nearly matched Williams’ performance.

The Washington senior had 24 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks and four steals.

C.J. Wilcox added 19 points, including four three-pointers off the bench, while Isaiah Thomas finished with 12 points and 10 assists. Justin Holiday added 11 points.

“It was just two teams playing hard and being very competitive with a lot at stake,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Not wanting to give the other an inch.”

The Huskies recovered from a slow start, trailing 11-2 early. They also trailed 52-40 in the second half before staging a comeback.

At that point, the Huskies went on a 10-2 run to pull to 54-50.

Washington continued to chip away at Arizona’s lead.

Wilcox tied the score at 68 on a three-pointer with 9:14 left and Washington took its first lead when Terrence Ross cleaned up a Bryan-Amaning miss and scored on a putback.

The basket put the Huskies ahead 70-68 with 8:38 remaining.

Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the way.

The Huskies forced 12 second-half turnovers for easy points.

They also torched Arizona with a series of pick-and-roll plays involving Thomas and Bryan-Amaning while the Wildcats scored on plenty of putbacks and hustle plays.

In the end it was a putback that proved to be the game-winning basket.

Holiday blocked a short jumper from Arizona junior forward Jesse Perry. Sophomore forward Solomon Hill retrieved the ball and sank an uncontested layup with 17.5 seconds left after a scramble.

The Huskies had three chances to regain the lead.

Bryan-Amaning was called for traveling with three seconds left, but Washington got the ball right back on an Arizona turnover with 2.2 seconds remaining.

That’s when Williams blocked Gant’s shot.

The Huskies are 0-5 in games decided by five points or less.

Still, Romar said this defeat was nothing like the losses against Michigan State, Texas A&M, Stanford and Oregon.

“If we would have played with this effort, we would have won those games,” Romar said.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

WASHINGTON 86
min fgm-a ftm-a or-t a pf pts
Brn-Amng 39 12-19 0-0 2-8 4 3 24
Holiday 31 4-8 2-2 1-2 0 1 11
Gant 26 3-6 1-1 2-7 1 4 7
Overton 24 2-4 2-2 0-0 3 3 6
Thomas 34 4-9 4-7 0-2 10 0 12
N’Diaye 9 1-2 0-0 0-2 0 4 2
Wilcox 22 7-11 1-2 0-0 0 1 19
Ross 15 1-4 3-4 1-1 2 1 5
200 34-63 13-18 8-25 20 17 86

Percentages: FG .540, FT .722. Three-point goals: 5-16, .313 (Wilcox 4-8, Holiday 1-3, Gant 0-1, Ross 0-2, Thomas 0-2). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 11 (Bryan-Amaning 7, Ross, N’Diaye, Gant, Holiday). Turnovers: 11 (Bryan-Amaning 3, Overton 3, Thomas 3, Ross, Holiday). Steals: 8 (Bryan-Amaning 4, Thomas, Overton, Gant, Holiday). Technical fouls: None.

ARIZONA 87
min fgm-a ftm-a or-t a pf pts
Williams 35 8-16 8-9 4-11 2 0 26
Perry 27 4-7 2-3 2-6 2 0 11
Hill 26 3-6 2-2 4-7 3 2 8
Jones 30 6-15 0-0 0-2 3 2 15
Fogg 23 1-3 1-1 0-1 1 4 4
Natyazhko 4 1-1 0-0 1-1 0 1 2
Parrom 22 4-7 1-1 3-4 0 1 11
Mayes 10 1-7 0-0 1-1 0 1 3
Lavender 8 0-0 2-2 0-0 0 1 2
Horne 14 2-5 0-0 1-2 0 2 5
Jacobson 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
200 30-67 16-18 19-40 11 16 87

Percentages: FG .448, FT .889. Three-point goals: 11-18, .611 (Jones 3-6, Williams 2-2, Parrom 2-3, Fogg 1-1, Perry 1-1, Mayes 1-2, Horne 1-3). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 5 (Fogg 2, Williams 2, Parrom). Turnovers: 19 (Williams 7, Parrom 2, Fogg 2, Jones 2, Mayes 2, Hill 2, Jacobson, Perry). Steals: 7 (Williams 2, Hill 2, Mayes, Jones, Fogg). Technical fouls: Hill.

Washington 40 46 86
Arizona 49 38 87

Attendance: 14,619. Officials: Tony Padilla, Mike Scyphers, Don McAllister.