Huskies blow a 10-point lead late in second half before regaining their footing and putting the Cougars away in overtime.
It was a wild one Saturday afternoon in Pullman.
In their Pac-12 road opener, Washington blew a 10-point lead with four minutes left in regulation before putting Washington State away 99-95 in overtime.
The Huskies, which improved to 11-4, remain perfect in the conference at 3-0 and are alone in first place. Meanwhile, the Cougars dropped to 9-6 and 1-2.
Here’s a three impressions from the game.
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That Andrew Andrews’ balloon continues to rise: Anyone expecting Andrews to taper down after a red-hot scoring display in nonconference games is sorely mistaken. The UW senior guard is getting better and better. And it’s pretty amazing to watch. He’s really come into his own. Today the Pac-12 scoring leader finished with 29 points after tallying 24 and 35 last week. He connected on 7 of 17 field goals and was 13 of 17 on free throws, including two misses in the final minute of overtime that added more drama to a game filled with suspense. Still, Andrews was largely exceptional. He grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out seven assists and collected two steals in 41 minutes. If we’re nitpicking, Andrews could have had a better plan on the final play in regulation. Last year, he drilled a game-winning three-pointer with 2.7 seconds. He didn’t have time to think. Someone else made the play, passed him the ball and he shot it. Today, Andrews had lots of time to think about what he wanted to do. He pump faked and got Josh Hawkinson in the air to draw a foul on a long jumper. The referees made the right decision and didn’t give him the call. It was miscalculation in an otherwise brilliant performance.
And speaking of brilliant, how about Dejounte Murray: Freshmen making their Pac-12 road debut in front of a cross-state rival crowd aren’t supposed to do what Murray did Saturday. He seemed unfazed by his surroundings. Granted, the 4,025 at Beasley Coliseum were a little quiet in the first half when he scored 16 of his 25 points. Still, Murray carried UW early until Andrews could take over at the end. In addition to scoring, Murray was an effective play maker. He finished with seven assists and didn’t commit a turnover for the first time this season. In fact, the Huskies had eight turnovers compared to WSU’s 12. Murray has struggled behind the arc where he entered the game shooting 26.3 percent. However, he canned 3 of 5 three-pointers.
Buckle up and get used to the thrill ride: Maybe it’s the price of doing business, but the Huskies are going to commit fouls if they continue to play their aggressive defense. They aren’t the biggest team in the world and coach Lorenzo Romar has them switching all screens, which sometimes puts small guards on post players. But the biggest problem starts with the front line. Today UW lost forwards Marquese Chriss, Noah Dickerson and Malik Dime who each fouled out. Chriss has fouled out six times, while Dickerson and Dime have fouled out four times. That seems like a risky way to play basketball, but the Huskies aren’t likely to pull back defensively any time soon. Washington committed 30 fouls and WSU had 22. The foul disparity sent the Cougars to the line 37 times, but their shoddy free-throw shooting negated what should have been an advantage. WSU shot 62.2 percent at the charity stripe, converting 23. Considering UW relies on a seven-man rotation, you have to wonder if the foul trouble will be a detriment at some point. But then, the Huskies may take a scenario when Dickerson scores a career-high 15 points on 8-for-11 shooting in 29 minutes before fouling out. Throw in 14 points and three blocks from Dime in 23 minutes and that’s quality post production.