Washington not only had to overcome a nine-point deficit but also an offensive drought for more than seven minutes in the second half Friday night to remain undefeated.
The Huskies earned their fifth consecutive victory by beating Long Beach State, 80-70, in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy men's basketball tournament at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Gym.
The Huskies (5-0) will seek to win the championship Sunday when it faces Texas-El Paso at the Honda Center in Anaheim. With a victory, the UW would match its best start in five years, when the Huskies went 6-0 to begin the 2009-10 season.
Nigel Williams-Goss scored 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds and set a tournament record with 12 assists. Mike Anderson contributed 16 points and Robert Upshaw had 12 points, seven rebounds and five blocks off the bench.
Never miss a local story.
But the Huskies missed 11 of 12 shots — including six in a row — as Long Beach State (3-4) built its biggest lead at 54-45 with 13 minutes, 50 seconds to play. UW then made six of its next seven shots to ignite a 13-3 blitz that gave the Huskies a 58-57 lead with 8:26 to go.
The 49ers regained a 65-62 advantage with 5:03 remaining when UW took firm control. Anderson's lay-in with 4:38 to go and Jernard Jarreau's two free throws 39 seconds later put the Huskies ahead, 66-65.
Then Upshaw and Andrew Andrews made their biggest contributions. Upshaw blocked Deontae North's shot and secured the rebound. Williams-Goss missed a three-point shot on the ensuing possession but Upshaw grabbed the rebound and passed back to Williams-Goss, who found Andrews for a three-point basket that extended UW's lead to 69-65 with 2:45 remaining.
UW received another possession when North stepped out of bounds while grabbing a defensive rebound with 1:41 to go. Andrews followed with a three-pointer to give the Huskies a 72-65 lead with 1:22 to play.
Both teams exchanged the lead six times and forced three ties in the first 11:44 before the 49ers used a 10-2 surge to move ahead, 30-24, with 6:25 to go in the first half.
Donaven Dorsey converted a pair of three-point shots in a 29-second stretch to put the Huskies ahead, 38-37, with 53.6 seconds remaining in the half. Yet Long Beach State entered the locker room with a 39-38 halftime lead after Mike Caffey made a fadeaway jumper with 40 seconds remaining.
Caffey led the 49ers with 18 points. North and Temidayo Yussuf added 16 points apiece.
Fastbreak: In news from UW's 78-56 rout of San Jose State on Thursday night, a statistical correction overnight gave Upshaw an extra blocked shot. Upshaw thus finished the game with eight blocks to set a single-game school record in just his fourth game with the Huskies.