SEATTLE – To orchestrate the second-most impressive comeback by a Seattle sports team on Sunday – and that Seahawks-Packers result was a prevalent conversation topic at Hec Edmundson Pavilion – the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team needed contributions from its best players.
And from a less-heralded local kid, too.
They trailed by 10 points at halftime against a fleet Oregon Ducks squad that ran the court, peppered the net with 3-pointers and dunked when they felt like it.
But for the next 20 minutes, the Huskies did all of that instead, and left Hec Edmundson Pavilion with an 85-77 victory and a sweep of both games they played here this weekend.
They did it behind 21 points from junior guard Andrew Andrews, and 20 points from sophomore point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, and another workmanlike double-double from star center Robert Upshaw, who scored 13 points to go along with 12 rebounds – seven of them offensive – and five blocked shots.
But the 13 points the Huskies received from freshman Donaven Dorsey, a Timberline High product, were just as crucial.
“We don’t win this game,” Andrews said, “if Donaven doesn’t come in and give us that spark off the bench.”
Indeed, the Lacey native played one of his most important games as a Husky, making each of his three 3-point attempts and converting a steal into a dunk to give UW a 74-61 lead with 4:27 to play.
That capped a 15-2 Huskies run that began with the score tied, 59-59, midway through the second half.
Washington (13-4, 2-3 in Pac-12), though, needed a significant run just to achieve that tie. The Huskies trailed 42-32 at halftime after allowing too many open 3-point looks out of their zone defense – Dwayne Benjamin was the primary benefactor, and he scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half – and failed to establish their own offensive rhythm.
“We talked about how we were very fortunate to be down 10. It could have easily been 20,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said of the Huskies’ halftime conversation. “We were very fortunate. And (if) we were down 10 after playing the way we did, we’d have a chance to get back in the game.”
That effort began 29 seconds into the half with a made 3-pointer by Williams-Goss, his first since Dec. 22. He knocked down another fewer than three minutes later, the first time he’d made more than one 3-pointer in a game since Dec. 14.
Two more 3s – by Andrews and guard Mike Anderson – gave the Huskies their first lead, at 52-50, since early in the first half. Washington wound up shooting 8-of-15 from beyond the 3-point arc, by far its most productive perimeter output of the season.
After Oregon tied the score 59-59 with a 3-pointer by Jalil Abdul-Bassit, Dorsey got involved. He sandwiched 3-pointers around an alley-oop dunk and subsequent free throw by Shawn Kemp Jr., and accounted for eight points during that decisive 15-2 run.
Dorsey’s 13 points marked just the second time the freshman has scored in double-figures this season. His five rebounds were a career best. His smooth shooting stroke has earned green-light permission from Romar – if he’s open, he is expected to shoot, no exceptions – which is something he’s still adjusting to.
“I wouldn’t say it’s natural,” Dorsey said. “I would say Coach is trying to continue to get me to do that. I just have to know that coach believes in me and he wants me to do that, so whatever he wants me to do, I’ll do.”
Andrews, who tied his single-game scoring high, drew praise from Romar for the efficiency with which he attacked the basket, and made a pair of big layups in the final minutes to help sustain a multi-possession lead.
Oregon (12-6, 2-3) did trim UW’s lead to 81-77 with 32.6 seconds remaining thanks to 10 quick points from Dillon Brooks, who led the Ducks with 16, and a wild 3-pointer by Joseph Young, the Pac-12’s leading scorer who managed just eight points against the Huskies.
But Williams-Goss made four free throws and the Ducks didn’t score again. They had a harder time doing that throughout the second half, shooting just 5-for-18 from 3-point range after making 6-of-12 before halftime.
The Huskies feel they further righted themselves in the process. They’ve won two games in a row after losing the previous four. And the always-intimidating road trip to Colorado and Utah awaits them next week.
“It’s all about keeping it together, keeping that momentum,” Upshaw said. “Any team in this conference is beatable, and this conference is a winnable conference.”
Said Romar: “We have a little bit more life now.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME – Andrew Andrews played one of the best games of his career, scoring 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting – including 2-of-3 from the 3-point line – to go along with four rebounds and four assists. He was smart about his decisions to attack the basket, and committed only two turnovers in 38 minutes.
IT WAS OVER WHEN – Nigel Williams-Goss made a pair of free throws with 13.5 seconds left to give the Huskies an insurmountable 85-77 lead.
STAT OF THE GAME – The Huskies, who shoot just 30.7 percent from 3-point range, made 8-of-15 and 6-of-9 in the second half to help complete their comeback.
QUOTABLE – “I think we have a triangle of guys that can put the ball in the basket, but we need to fill in the blanks at times. Tonight, we filled in the blanks.” – UW coach Lorenzo Romar on production from Donaven Dorsey
WHAT IT MEANS – The Huskies desperately needed to sweep this weekend’s games against Oregon State and Oregon, and managed to do so despite losing starting forward Jernard Jarreau to a knee injury. Now, they enter games at Colorado and No. 8-ranked Utah this week feeling a little better about their chances to construct a positive conference record.
UP NEXT – Washington at Colorado, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22 (FOX Sports 1).
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple