Washington had a microcosm of its season play out in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Huskies had a solid start, moved ahead and appeared in control, before being pulled back in and eventually undone.
The sixth-seeded Huskies lost to third-seeded Oregon 80-77 in overtime at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Oregon will face upstart and 10th-seeded Utah in the semifinals.
Washington waits to see if it will be invited to the NIT. At 18-15, it has a solid chance, though Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar wasn't sure postgame if Washington would get the call. He also said the Huskies would not participate in the CBI if offered an invitation.
As for Thursday night, Washington had its chances, again echoing the season.
The Huskies led by six, 58-52, with 6:24 to go. They had a seven-point lead in the first half that ended up a five-point deficit by the break.
On Oregon's final possession in regulation, Ducks point guard Johnathan Loyd shot a 3-pointer. That was excellent news for Washington since Loyd is a 29.5 percent 3-point shooter. He bricked it, but the Huskies couldn't grab the rebound.
After the inbounds, Loyd was eventually was fouled by Abdul Gaddy on a bit of a sell job on an elbow jumper, though the replay shows Gaddy hit Loyd on the arm (Gaddy said afterward he honestly believed he didn't hit Loyd). Still, not a bad scenario for Washington, up two, with 14.4 seconds to go. Why? Because Loyd is a 59.6 percent free-throw shooter and had not shot one all night. Now, he was on the line with a chance to tie it.
He hit both.
Which led to Washington's final play of regulation.
After Scott Suggs was fouled by E.J. Singler, Washington had 4.4 seconds left to get off a shot. They ran an inbounds play to isolate C.J. Wilcox at the top of the key. He got the ball in a good spot, but Washington had one big problem.
Take a look at this screen grab of the play:
This is the Wilcox iso. One major issue with it: all the traffic is on the left side of the floor.
A little background to explain. Wilcox was born left-handed. Growing up, he shot an equal number of jumpers with his left and right hands, per his dad's orders. Eventually, Wilcox's dad made him pick a preference. Since he was shooting better with his right, he chose that. But, he still does a bunch of daily stuff with his left hand. He even joked to me, "When in doubt, go left."
Which is what he did on this play. Looking back, Wilcox almost exclusively drives left. If he was fouled, he would have gone to the free-throw line. Instead, Loyd, in the screen cap pointing with his left hand at Wilcox, left Gaddy and reached in for a clean steal because Wilcox drove to his preferred left where all the help defense was.
So, to close regulation, Washington forced a 3-pointer from one of the Ducks' worst 3-point shooters, and free throws from their worst free-throw shooter among their regulars and got an iso for its best player, yet didn't win.
Once the game went to overtime, Arsalan Kazemi and the Ducks dominated. Kazemi scored 11 of Oregon's 16 points in overtime. The Ducks went up by as many as eight. Andrew Andrews hit a 3 right before the horn to make the score look tighter.
"When you have that small window against a good team like Oregon, you’ve got to jump through it or it can close on you, and it closed on us in overtime," Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar said.
The NIT field of 32 teams selected by an eight-member committee (more on that in a later post) is announced immediately after the NCAA Tournament field this Sunday. So, stay tuned.
Notes, quotes and thoughts:
> C.J. Wilcox with his best night in a while. He was 7 for 12 from the field and 3 for 4 from 3 for a team-high 19 points. He also had six rebounds and two assists. Once Washington figures out if the season is over or not, then Wilcox will start the process of looking at the NBA more in-depth. He already has a lot of information. Don't forget that pending commitments to the Huskies could play into his decision. Because of how the timetable is now set up, Wilcox will have to announce his decision prior to recruits signing their spring LOIs. Wilcox would have to withdraw from the NBA draft no later than April 15 in order to retain eligibility. April 17 is the first date recruits can sign in the regular signing period. That window closes May 15.
> Not a good night for Abdul Gaddy in what could be his last game. He was 6 for 17 from the field and finished with five assists and six turnovers. He was upset postgame.
"I just don’t want it to be my last game," Gaddy said. "These are my brothers. I love playing with these guys, coaching staff … I just don’t want it to be my last game.
"Down the stretch, I thought we had the game."
>Another good shooting night for Scott Suggs. He finished with 18 points on 7 for 15. His shot selection was shaky at times. He also was often bullied by E.J. Singler who was 7 for 10.
> Washington missed six free throws (eight for 14) in a game that went to overtime.
> Shawn Kemp Jr. failed to rotate to Singler at the end of the first half and allowed and uncontested layup. That's about as basic as defense gets, yet he didn't do it, again, in a game that went to overtime.
> Washington was 9 for 17 from 3, making it 17 for 36 in the two tournament games (47.2 percent). That's well ahead of its conference clip of 30.5 percent, which was 10th in the league.
> Aziz N'Diaye had seven points and nine rebounds. He also had trouble with Oregon center Tony Woods, who scored a career-high 19 points.
> Loyd's only make of the night was a 3-pointer that tied the game 60-60 with 4:13 remaining.
> Most spreads had Oregon a 3.5- or 4-point favorites. Andrews 3-pointer just before the buzzer meant Oregon didn't cover. This was a hot topic considering where the game was played. Andrews even received some nasty Twitter traffic because of it.
|S. Kemp, Jr.||19||1-2||0-0||0-0||0||4||0||1||0||1||1||2|
|Percentages||.455||.529||.571||Team Rebounds: 5|
|Percentages||.424||.500||.750||Team Rebounds: 8|
- Technical Fouls: None
- Arena: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
- Attendance: 10,566
- Officials: Chris Rastatter, Gregory Nixon, Deldre Carter