Freshman Markelle Fultz scores career-high 37 points as the Huskies rally from a 17-point deficit and then edge the Buffaloes in overtime.
A day after Lorenzo Romar chastised the Washington men’s basketball team and was critical of his coaching for fading in the final minutes of defeats, the Huskies made all the right moves at the end Wednesday night.
They overcame a horrific three-point shooting performance in the first half and a 17-point second-half deficit to push Colorado to an extra period, where Markelle Fultz took over and delivered an 85-83 overtime victory.
The Huskies’ freshman star finished with a career-high 37 points, eight assists and five rebounds. He converted 13 of 24 field goals and 11 of 15 free throws.
Utah @ UW, 5 p.m., Pac-12
“This was a great character win,” Romar said. “We were down, and guys just came back in the second half and scrapped like crazy.”
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Down 41-24 early in the second half, the Huskies didn’t panic. They overcame double-digit deficits last week, but stumbled in the defining moments in defeats at California and Stanford.
“I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we’re better down the stretch in games,” Romar said before facing Colorado.
After outscoring the Buffaloes 43-28 in the second half and snapping a two-game losing skid, Romar praised UW’s tenacity.
“Maybe we learned from some of those experiences,” Romar said. “That’s why it’s so good to be experienced. Because you learn from those. You can’t discount that fact that we were down 19 at Stanford and came all the way back.
“That was an experience I think we were able to draw from tonight. We were just in this position. We know we can come back. I think that was very helpful. As you play more games and as our young team gets experience you have these little mini victories that help you down the road.”
No one would have expected the Huskies were capable of any kind of comeback, considering their first-half performance in which they missed 11 of 12 three-pointers and trailed 39-24 at the break.
“With this team right now if we don’t see that ball going in the basket with any type of regularity, we let down on the defensive end,” Romar said. “We couldn’t put the ball in the basket, and I think on the (defensive) end that affected us. The ball went in the basket more in the second half, and we did a better job (defensively).”
Once they fell behind by 17, the Huskies (9-9, 2-4 Pac-12) turned to Fultz, who scored 16 points in the second half, and tightened the screws defensively. Colorado, which shot 51.5 percent in the first half, shot 33.3 percent (10 of 30) in the second half.
Noah Dickerson (10 points) sank two free throws that gave UW a 67-65 lead with 21 seconds left in regulation, but Xavier Johnson tied the score with a layup 10 seconds later.
And Wesley Gordon blocked Fultz’s three-point attempt at the buzzer to end regulation.
In the extra period, Fultz scored nine of UW’s 18 points.
Trailing 81-80 with less than a minute left, David Crisp (14 points) closed the scoring for the Huskies. He drained a three-pointer on the opposite sideline of the Washington bench with 27 seconds remaining and capped the scoring for the Huskies with a pair of free throws.
Dominic Green had 11 points and made three three-pointers.
Johnson scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds and Derrick White scored 23 for Colorado, which fell to 10-9 and 0-6. The Buffaloes have lost six straight games.
Romar hopes the Huskies have finally turned the corner and are ready to make a postseason push as they head into Saturday’s game against Utah (13-5, 4-2).
“We’ll find out,” he said. “Our guys have a healthy respect for Utah. They’re one of the more solid teams in this league.
“They don’t give games away. They just don’t do it. I know it definitely helps our confidence to go into that game Saturday knowing we’re coming off of a hard-fought character win.”