Needing a win Saturday to boost the Huskies’ chances at capturing an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, Murray scored 25 points to lead Washington to a 64-53 victory on Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The question seemed innocent, but it caught Dejounte Murray off guard.
“What is it going to take for you to get your swagger back?” he was asked Thursday after the Washington men’s basketball team lost its fourth straight game.
The freshman guard fired back: “I feel like I’ve never lost my swagger. … My swagger is always on. Always.”
Combined Pac-12 records of the three teams the Huskies close the regular season against (Oregon State, Oregon and WSU).
Needing a win Saturday to boost the Huskies’ chances at capturing an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, Murray scored 25 points to lead Washington to a 64-53 victory on Saturday in front of 9,161 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
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It was UW’s first win since Feb. 3 when Murray scored a career-high 34 points. He averaged just 10.8 points in the next four games, which coincided with the Huskies’ four-game losing streak.
Against Stanford’s unorthodox 3-2 zone defense, Murray was on the attack early and often. He sank 10 of 14 field goals, including four layups, four mid-range jumpers and two three-pointers.
“Just move the ball and try to get through the gaps,” Murray said. “Whatever is open. That’s what we did. That’s what I kind of did tonight.”
Excluding Murray, the Huskies shot 28.6 percent (10 of 35) from the field.
“He was tremendous against the zone,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “This is the best he’s played against zone all year. He did a very good job. He was very calculated. He was very efficient.”
Less than 48 hours after shooting a season-low 32.9 percent from the field in Thursday’s 78-75 loss to California, Washington struggled offensively once again.
The Huskies committed 17 turnovers, and the game was tied at 26 at halftime.
Washington opened the second half with a pair of alley-oop lobs from Andrew Andrews to Marquese Chriss, who finished with crowd-pleasing dunks.
Andrews, the Pac-12 scoring leader, was more of a playmaker than a scorer. He finished with six assists and eight points – 12 fewer than his average.
Andrews, who played 36 minutes despite an injured knee, was 0 for 4 from the field, but converted 8 of 9 free throws.
“Some of the lobs opened it up,” Andrews said when asked about Stanford’s defense. “Once we started passing and moving the ball, then dribble penetration a little (more), that’s when the game kind of opened up for us.”
The Huskies shot 46.2 percent after the break and outscored Stanford 38-27 in the second half.
Chriss, who had 11 points, unlocked a 35-35 tie with a three-pointer in the corner at the 12:36 mark and the Huskies never trailed again.
They pushed their lead to 49-41 before Stanford made one last run and cut its deficit to 51-47 with 5:12 left.
Rarely during Pac-12 play have the Huskies been able to put teams away, and often the outcome has been decided in the final minute.
They are 5-4 in conference games decided by five points or less.
After Stanford cut UW’s lead to four, Andrews connected with junior center Malik Dime (10 points) for a dunk and the Huskies closed the game with a 13-6 run. The Cardinal never got closer than six points in the final four minutes.
“You’d like to think that we’ve been in that situation so many times that we grew up a little bit,” Romar said. “They didn’t storm all the way back and take the lead this time like what’s happened before.
“We knuckled down and got some stops.”
Murray capped the scoring for the Huskies and finished his opus with a breakaway dunk in the final seconds that punctuated the win.
“He was born with some shiftiness, and there’s not a lot of people that have that like that,” Romar said. “If there’s a little bit of a crack, he can get through there.
“But I thought tonight he got through those cracks and was really under control.”
With three regular-season games remaining, the Huskies (16-11, 8-7 Pac-12) remain in seventh place in the Pac-12 standings.
Stanford (13-12, 6-8) fell to ninth place. Senior forward Rosco Allen scored 20 points for the Cardinal.
Washington travels to Oregon State on Wednesday and plays at Oregon next Sunday.
Washington hosts cross-state rival Washington State in its March 2 regular-season finale before the Pac-12 tournament begins March 9 in Las Vegas.
“If we can continue to play the way that we’re playing … and begin to start to make shots, that could put us in a situation where we can finish really strong,” Romar said.
• Andrews strained his medial collateral ligament on Thursday and was unable to practice Friday. Romar doesn’t believe the injury will affect Andrews next week.
• With at least four games remaining, Washington has set the program’s season record with 194 blocks. The Huskies are 17 away from the Pac-12 record of 211, which was set by Arizona State in 2013-14. UW ranks third on the list.
• Since the 1996-97 season, Murray is one of three freshmen to average at least 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Before Saturday’s game he averaged 14.8, 6.2 and 4.6. The other two are LSU freshman Ben Simmons (19.3, 12.0 and 5.1), a potential No. 1 NBA draft pick, and Curtis Stinson (16.2, 6.0 and 4.3), a former Iowa State standout in 2003-04.
|Saturday’s resultsWashington 64, Stanford 53Oregon 91, Oregon St. 81UCLA 77, Colorado 53|