One by one, they fouled out and trudged to the Washington Huskies bench, almost enough of them to form a legitimate starting lineup.
Malik Dime, who scored 14 points. Marquese Chriss, who again fouled too early and too often. Noah Dickerson, who scored a career-best 16 points. And Matisse Thybulle, who made two big free throws in overtime.
They could only watch as others decided the outcome of UW’s thrilling game against Washington State on Saturday at Beasley Coliseum, where the Huskies led by 10 points with five minutes left in regulation, choked that margin away, then clung to a tenuous, two-point lead as their lone senior, Andrew Andrews, stood at the free-throw line with 3.4 seconds left in overtime.
Andrews had a chance to win the game on UW’s final possession of regulation, but failed to draw a foul when he pump-faked, then leaned into the body of WSU forward Josh Hawkinson.
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The free-throw line, for the Huskies on Saturday and for Andrews always, was a much surer thing.
So it was that Andrews made those free throws in the waning seconds of overtime, the deciding salvos in an entertaining, hard-fought 99-95 victory for the Huskies before a small but interested crowd of 4,025.
And as the Huskies hustled to shower and pack their bags and get to the airport — they had a 3:35 p.m. flight to catch, and the game ended roughly an hour before that departure — coach Lorenzo Romar again spoke of resiliency, again said he was proud, again remarked that his young team is proving that it already knows how to win.
“I think our guys are pretty resilient,” Romar said. “I think our guys come from backgrounds, a lot of them, where they won games. They’ve been winners. They’re accustomed to winning games, they’re accustomed to knowing what it takes, even though they haven’t done it at this level.”
They know how to make it interesting, too. Washington is 3-0 in Pac-12 play, each victory more harrowing than the last. The Huskies needed double-overtime to dispatch UCLA in their conference opener, and defeated USC two days later after trailing by 22 points in the second half.
On Saturday, they finished the game with five guards on the court, because the four aforementioned players fouled out.
“I think we pretty much fouled out their whole team,” WSU coach Ernie Kent said, “and they still kept their composure.”
Indeed, the Huskies found a way to win, a quality they seem to be refining ahead of schedule.
“I think that UCLA game helped us out a lot,” Andrews said, “just knowing if we keep our heads into it and then rely on getting stops and rebounding the ball, we’ll be all right.”
The Huskies (11-4) again relied on an outstanding performance from Andrews, who led with 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, four days after winning his second Pac-12 player of the week award this season for his contributions in UW’s first two league victories.
Dejounte Murray, the star freshman guard, scored 25 points, including 16 in the first half, and had seven assists and zero turnovers in 43 minutes.
Andrews split a pair of free throws with 19.2 seconds left to give UW a 97-95 lead before WSU guard Ike Iroegbu, who slashed to the rim all game and finished with 28 points, missed a pull-up jumper in the final seconds. After a scrum, Andrews emerged with the ball, the Cougars fouled him, and he made the ensuing free throws — he had 13 of 17 total — to extend his team’s winning streak.
WSU (9-6, 1-2 Pac-12) didn’t lead for the final 9:40 of regulation or at any point during overtime, but forced the extra period by closing the second half on an 11-2 run, sparked by Iroegbu’s frequent excursions to the rim.
And the Cougars might have won if they’d simply taken better advantage of the 37 free-throw attempts afforded them by UW’s 30 fouls. Hawkinson, who scored 21 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, could have tied the game with 30.9 seconds left in overtime when he scored and was fouled by Thybulle, but missed the free throw.
Charles Callison, a junior guard, missed two of his four free-throw tries in overtime. And Iroegbu had a chance to give WSU the lead with 18.3 seconds left in regulation, but missed the first of two free throws and only tied it. The Cougars shot 23 of 37 from the line overall, while the Huskies finished 23 of 30.
That, ultimately, was why UW left its first true road game of the season with its first true road victory.
“I said one day we’re going to get it,” Romar said. “I didn’t know when we would get it, and we still haven’t gotten it yet. But because of our effort and because of our belief, and (because) our guys play together and stick together, we’re just able to get by enough until we continue to get better.”
Hey, they only needed one overtime. What more does he want?
Player of the game: Once again, it’s Andrew Andrews. The senior guard led UW with 29 points, and added 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 41 minutes. He shot 13 of 17 from the free-throw line, including a pair to give UW its final margin with 3.4 seconds remaining.
It was over when: Andrews made those two free throws in the final seconds. The outcome was still up for grabs until that moment.
Stat of the game: Four UW players fouled out.
Quotable: “I think that UCLA game helped us out a lot, just knowing if we keep our heads into it and then rely on getting stops and rebounding the ball, we’ll be all right.” — Andrews on playing multiple overtime games
What it means: Most importantly, it means the Huskies are still unbeaten in Pac-12 play at 3-0 — with a big game looming against Arizona. But the big-picture takeaway is that UW has won three consecutive games that required some measure of clutch play in the final minutes — and two of them went to overtime. That will be valuable experience for a young team that just played — and won — its first true road game of the season.
Up next: Washington at Arizona, 6 p.m. Thursday, FS1.