Before he made the most important shot of his basketball career, Andrew Andrews allowed himself to recall his biggest miss.
As a senior at Benson Tech in Portland, Andrews scored 41 points in the Class 5A Oregon state championship game in Eugene against Corvallis High. But he will remember most the jumper he missed at the end of regulation, and the heartache of the double-overtime loss that ensued.
Nearly four years later, atonement arrived at the Coors Events Center where Andrews lined up a jumper in the waning seconds of the Washington Huskies’ game against Colorado on Thursday night.
“Once I got the ball,” Andrews said, “that was kind of just replaying in my head, thinking, ‘Man, I missed the shot last time,’ so I’ve got to focus and make it.”
And so Washington left this intimidating venue with a 52-50 victory before a stunned crowd of 9,653, thanks to Andrews’ midrange jumper that funneled through the net with .3 of a second remaining.
It was a dramatic finish to an ugly game marked mostly by misses.
But, hey. It’s a road victory. And the Huskies (13-4, 3-3 Pac-12) will take those however they come.
“Any time you can get one on the road,” sophomore point guard Nigel Williams-Goss said, “whether it’s pretty or ugly, you just want to get ’em.”
Andrews himself shot just 3 for 12 from the field, finishing with 12 points thanks to a few trips to the free-throw line. And yet, UW coach Lorenzo Romar wanted Andrews to take the final shot when the Huskies gained possession with 34.1 seconds remaining after Andrews forced a held ball with Buffaloes guard Jaron Hopkins.
“When he was a freshman, in practice, he’d hit those shots at the buzzer all the time,” Romar said. “If he gets open and he’s on balance, in a situation where there’s pressure, he’s a daredevil. And in those situations, I’ve seen him in practice come through.”
Andrews admitted that his eyes lit up during the timeout when he saw and heard Romar draw up the play for him.
Williams-Goss, who led all scorers with 16 points, dribbled patiently between the 3-point line and midcourt. Then, he tossed left to Andrews, who was defended by guard Askia Booker.
Williams-Goss sprinted to set a screen under the basket for Shawn Kemp Jr., who sprinted back to Andrews and set a screen on Booker. That prompted Kemp’s defender, 6-foot-9 forward Wesley Gordon, to switch onto Andrews.
He liked that matchup. So Andrews took a hard dribble with his left hand, pulled up a couple feet behind the free-throw line, and launched the jumper that gave the Huskies their first Pac-12 road victory of the season.
“He’s a gamer in certain situations like that,” Romar said.
It wasn’t easy. Washington, which relied on a six-man rotation for the first time this season, shot 36 percent from the field. The Huskies hadn’t made a field goal since the 7:24 mark prior to Andrews’ game-winner, and they committed more turnovers (eight) than made field goals (six) in the first half. Colorado led at halftime, 24-19, and it could have been worse.
But the Huskies’ zone defense was effective against the undermanned Buffaloes (9-9, 2-4), who played without forwards Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott. CU shot 31.7 percent from the field, and didn’t score in the final 3:07 after Gordon’s putback gave the Buffaloes a 50-48 lead.
UW’s Mike Anderson tied the score with a pair of free throws with 2:16 remaining.
Later, Andrews shot the Huskies back to .500 in Pac-12 play.
“We definitely have all the confidence in the world that he can knock down those shots,” Williams-Goss said, “and we’ve seen him do it before.”