Take a stroll through the batch of absurdities and statistical achievement spawned from Washington’s maddening, thrilling, exhausting 96-93 double-overtime victory over 25th-ranked UCLA on Friday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The teams combined for 64 fouls and shot 90 free throws. Andrew Andrews tied his career high with 35 points despite committing three fouls in the first half. Noah Dickerson scored zero points but grabbed 10 rebounds before fouling out. Marquese Chriss and Malik Dime fouled out, too, and the Huskies used a five-guard lineup at times in the second overtime. Bruins guard Bryce Alford scored 30 points despite missing his first 11 field-goal attempts and making only five total. He also committed seven turnovers and played 48 minutes and made clutch 3-pointers to force both overtime and double overtime, deflating blows that UW coach Lorenzo Romar said might have sunk past Huskies teams.
But it didn’t sink this one, somehow. And maybe that’s the most encouraging part about this big win for the Huskies, who lost four days ago to UC-Santa Barbara but regrouped in time to take a harrowing victory from a Bruins team that has beaten both Kentucky and Gonzaga.
“It was a gut-check win for us, obviously,” Romar said. “We’ve had teams that were more experienced teams, that were NCAA tournament teams, that have been in that situation and we fight hard and the game goes into overtime, and they hit a shot like Alford hit, and mentally guys weren’t able to recover. Tonight, we recovered twice in overtime.”
First, Alford hit an impossible, step-back 3-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Then, after Andrews made a pair of free throws to give UW an 83-80 lead with 21 seconds to play, the Huskies failed to switch on a screen that freed Alford for a wide-open look at a 3-pointer, which he swished with 13 seconds to play.
“Not again,” Andrews thought.
Andrews missed a jumper at the buzzer on the other end, cueing up another five, frenetic minutes of basketball.
And that’s when he excelled.
“It was more so about how we reacted to the shots, as far as, all right, we’ve just got another five minutes to come out with the win,” Andrews said. “And I think we did that, and Coach and his staff did a good job of making sure we were mentally focused.”
The senior guard made a 3-pointer with 2:24 to play to give the Huskies an 88-85 lead. Then after a steal, he threw down a one-handed dunk to put the Huskies up by five.
David Crisp made a big 3-pointer, too, with 38.9 seconds to play, that gave UW a 93-89 lead. Matisse Thybulle, who scored 14 points and made a big 3-pointer from the corner in the first overtime, made one of two free throws with seven seconds left to give the Huskies a 94-91 lead.
The Huskies were not going to let Alford burn them again. Freshman guard Dejounte Murray nearly tackled Alford when he came across the midcourt line with 1.8 seconds left, preventing the Bruins guard from hoisting another miracle 3-pointer.
Alford made the first free throw, and made the second despite trying to miss it. UCLA fouled Andrews with 0.7 seconds left. He made two free throws – he also tried to miss the second, but made it – and a last-second heave from Alford, who finished 5-for-21 from the field and 17-of-18 from the free-throw line, fell well short.
“There were so many heroes in this game,” Romar said. “I was just very, very happy to see us win it as a team, stay in it mentally, and now we have to move on to the next one.”
The overtimes produced fun, back-and-forth basketball, the kind that should be expected in a Pac-12 opener. The second half, while higher-scoring – UW outpaced UCLA 43-38 thanks to big contributions from Dime, who scored 15 points, and Andrews, who made a 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left that felt like a dagger at the time – was still bogged down too much by the officials’ whistles.
And the first half was mostly wretched, and not just because of the fouls. Washington made just 8-of-30 from the field and 10-of-18 from the free-throw line, missing jumpers and chippies alike. They were also called for 14 fouls, three of them against starting point guard and leading scorer Andrews, who still led the team in the first half with eight points – and he had two of the just four field-goals made by the Huskies starters during that time.
Fouls were an issue for UCLA, too. The Bruins had six players – six! – called for two or more fouls in the first half alone, and they also had trouble putting the ball through the hoop, making only 32.1 percent of their field-goal attempts.
UCLA committed 12 first-half turnovers. The Huskies gave the ball away 11 times. But each team struggled so consistently to score that they combined for only 13 points off each others’ turnovers – seven for UCLA, six for UW – and entered halftime with the Bruins leading just 33-28 despite the sloppiness of the 20 minutes that preceded.
In the end, the Huskies celebrated their biggest win of the season, largely because they held UCLA to 37.7 percent shooting from the field, and, too, because they were resilient enough to shake off all the fouls and missed shots and Alford’s heroics.
“Today was a great, great test for us,” Andrews said. “And I’m glad we came out on top to give us that experience real quick that we needed.”