Washington’s seven freshmen who made their conference debut won’t soon forget their first league game – a 96-93 double-overtime victory that will go down as an instant classic.
Welcome to the Pac-12, Husky freshmen.
To be sure, not every game will be as challenging, emotionally draining and entertaining as Friday’s roller-coaster thrill ride, but one can only hope.
Washington’s seven freshmen who made their conference debut won’t soon forget their first league game — a 96-93 double-overtime victory over No. 25 UCLA that will go down as an instant classic.
The Huskies overcame a 10-point first-half deficit and two late three-pointers from Bryce Alford that forced the first and second overtimes to snap a five-game losing streak to the Bruins.
At the end, Washington’s Andrew Andrews made the game’s biggest plays in one of the biggest games in his career.
“It felt like an AAU championship game where the two best teams in the country are in the gym and everyone is watching,” said Andrews, who finished with a career-high-tying 35 points. “It’s play after play being made. We had a great crowd, which really helped us through it.”
With the game tied at 85, the senior guard drained a three-pointer a few feet from the UW bench and turned to Husky coach Lorenzo Romar and nodded.
At the other end, Andrews stole the ball from Isaac Hamilton before racing down court and flushing a fast-break dunk that brought the crowd of 6,920 at Alaska Airlines Arena to its feet.
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With the building rocking like it hasn’t in years, Andrews walked over to the scorer’s table and exchanged high-fives and fist bumps with front-row-seat patrons.
“Anytime the game gets close, something in me wants to make some type of play,” Andrews said. “It might be the wrong play, but I just want to make a play. I noticed throughout the game (that) Hamilton whenever he drove he wasn’t looking to pass. He wanted to get across the lane and shoot that floater.
“I came across and figured he wouldn’t see me for the steal.”
And on the dunk?
“I was dunking that no matter what,” Andrews said.
Still, UCLA didn’t go away.
The Bruins closed to within 90-89 with 57 seconds left, but Washington closed out the game with a 6-4 run capped by a pair of free throws by Andrews.
“It was a gut-check win for us,” Romar said. “We’ve had more experienced teams and NCAA tournament teams that have been in that situation — you fight hard and the game goes into overtime and you hit a shot like Alford hits and mentally guys weren’t able to recover.
“Tonight we recovered twice. It speaks a lot to Andrews’ leadership out there and these guys playing older than their age tonight. There were so many heroes in this game.”
The Huskies (9-4, 1-0) received 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench from junior center Malik Dime. Matisse Thybulle, who hit a big three-pointer in the first overtime, and David Crisp, who canned a critical three-pointer in the second overtime, added 13 points each.
Meanwhile Dejounte Murray had 11 points.
Alford countered with 30 points and Thomas Welsh had 19 points and 15 rebounds for UCLA (9-5, 0-1).
“This was by far the most intense game I’ve ever played,” Thybulle said.
In a game of attrition due to a high number of fouls that depleted both teams, Washington had just enough at the end for its first victory over UCLA since 2012.
The teams combined for 64 fouls — 22 shy of the NCAA record — and 90 free throws. UW players Marquese Chriss, Noah Dickerson and Dime fouled out.
“We don’t stop,” Andrews said. “I talked about it early that there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs with this team, but I think we’re starting to get to the point where we can be solid.”
Still there were plenty of shaky moments for the Huskies, who trailed 33-28 at halftime. The deficit felt much larger considering their inability to generate points.
Washington misfired on 22 of 30 and shot 26.7 percent from the field, including a 2-for-9 performance on three-pointers. UW even struggled on free throws and was 10 for 18 at the line.
Andrews felt the young Huskies got a taste of what life will be like in the Pac-12.
“If they didn’t, I think they do now,” Andrews said. “It was a great, great test for us and I’m glad we came out on top.
“We came out a little fidgety in the first half a little bit and not knowing what to expect. … Once we settled down we started getting wide-open looks and making shots.”
The Huskies play USC (12-2, 1-0) Sunday at noon at Alaska Airlines Arena.
|The UW men snapped a five-game losing streak to UCLA|
|Jan. 1, 2016||UW, 96-93 (2OT)|
|Feb. 25, 2015||@ UCLA, 88-66|
|March 6, 2014||UCLA, 91-82|
|March 9, 2013||UCLA, 61-54|
|Feb. 7, 2013||@ UCLA, 59-57|
|March 3, 2012||@ UCLA, 75-69|