A season lost long ago concluded in a most heart-wrenching manner, with a good UW effort fading into a 71-69 loss to Stanford on Wednesday in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.
LAS VEGAS — Mike Anderson pulled the black No. 11 jersey over his face and walked off the court, shocked and upset.
He couldn’t see, but somehow he knew the route to the locker room. Seconds earlier, the Washington senior guard had watched his college basketball career end on a three-pointer in the closing seconds. A season lost long ago concluded in a most heart-wrenching manner, with a good UW effort fading into a 71-69 loss to Stanford on Wednesday in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.
It was thrilling and tense postseason basketball. Washington coach Lorenzo Romar got just about all he could from a diminished team that started the season by winning its first 11 games and rising to No. 13 in the national rankings. But in the end, a familiar story line resurfaced — misfortune.
“A lot of misfortune, to sum it up in one word,” Romar said, reflecting on a 2014-15 season that saw the Huskies (16-15) lost 15 of their last 20 games. “A lot of misfortune.”
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In this game, the Huskies led 69-64 after Jernard Jarreau hit a three-pointer. Stanford called a timeout with 3:18 remaining. Washington was one final push from a second straight victory and from advancing in the conference tournament, which seemed unlikely just a week ago.
But those were the last points the Huskies would score. They turned timid on offense, trying to run out the clock and instead of attacking like they had the entire second half. Still, they clung to a 69-68 lead with 28.5 seconds remaining. The Cardinal fouled freshman walk-on guard Dan Kingma, an unexpected star on this night.
Kingma made three three-pointers and led the Huskies with nine points in the first half. But he went to the free-throw line and missed the front end of a one-and-one. It was only the seventh free throw he had attempted all season.
The miss led to a frantic and depressing conclusion. On the Cardinal’s final possession, Rosco Allen missed a jumper, but teammate Marcus Allen grabbed the rebound and found Stanford star Chasson Randle open on the left wing. Randle, who missed eight of his 11 field-goal attempts, made the most important shot. His three-pointer with 2.4 seconds left gave Stanford a 71-69 lead.
Washington guard Andrew Andrews, who scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, just missed a running three-pointer at the buzzer.
Andrews dipped his head. Anderson covered his face. The Huskies, who were just playing for pride, left stunned that Stanford had robbed them of a victory for the second time this season.
“Obviously, no one wanted to go out like that,” said point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who recovered from a slow start and finished with 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Earlier in the season, Williams-Goss had felt the same disappointment Kingma was feeling. He missed a key free throw when the Huskies could’ve iced the game at Stanford. They ended up losing 68-60 in overtime.
“I told him I love him like a brother,” Williams-Goss said of a postgame talk with Kingma. “I told him there’s not another walk-on in the tournament who could come in and do what he did in the first half.”
In the first half, the Huskies continued to play with the competitive spirit that helped them upset then-No. 13 Utah in the regular-season finale. They were still comically short-handed, with Gilles Dierickx forced to start at center, but Shawn Kemp Jr. returned in a bench role after missing the previous four games with a concussion and then a calf injury.
Kingma provided a boost and a huge surprise in the first 20 minutes as his shooting helped the Huskies go to halftime tied at 32. It felt like the Huskies used every resource they still possessed to stay even.
For the game, Washington made 13 of 20 three-pointers. Going back to the Utah game, the Huskies ended the season making 21 of their last 34 three-point attempts.
This was the best of what they had left, with their guards dominating the game and the entire team playing at a fast pace. But they couldn’t finish — not on Wednesday night, not after starting 11-0.
The loss of center Robert Upshaw, who was dismissed from the team in late January, was the major blow. Jarreau needed knee surgery and missed several weeks. By the end of the season, the Washington frontcourt was so limited that Romar had to employ lineups featuring four, sometimes five, guards.
But even before the misfortune, the Huskies had lost steam after the hot start. It was a disappointing year on many levels. They’re left to hope that better things are coming because of a nationally ranked recruiting class and their refusal to quit down the stretch.
“I told our team I was so proud of the fact that we’ve been through so much this year, but we collected ourselves and finished playing good basketball,” Romar said. “A lot of teams, teams will throw in the towel after some of the losses we suffered. Our guys didn’t do that.”
The Huskies deserved to play another game, but they weren’t good enough in the final three minutes.
At the end, they lost in the same manner that a promising season fell apart.