By Erik Erickson
University of Washington Daily
SHANGHAI — The Washington and Texas men’s basketball teams and made history Saturday, becoming the first teams to play a regular-season basketball game in China.
The Huskies feel better about their trip, however, as they became the first winner here in American team sports annals with a surprising 77-71 victory over the favored Longhorns.
The teams gave the crowd of 7,188 at Mercedes Benz Arena all they could ask for. Neither led by more than 10 points, and with just under five minutes to play, it was a one-point game.
Coach Lorenzo Romar wasn’t sure what to expect in the first game in China, but said he enjoyed being a part of the international celebration.
“The atmosphere ended up being really nice, really fun to be in,” Romar said. “We are really fortunate being a part of history. I thought everyone involved, Texas, Pac-12, Big 12, did a tremendous job of putting on a nice product out there for the people here.”
The UW spent part of their week-long trip sightseeing in Shanghai and visiting tech giant Alibaba in Hangzhou. Despite everything surrounding the game, the UW was most focused on Saturday’s outcome.
Andrew Andrews, the only starter who wasn’t a freshman, scored 23 points to lead Washington over the bigger, stronger, older Longhorns. Malik Dime added 10 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Freshmen Marquese Chriss scored 14 points and Noah Dickerson had nine points and six rebounds.
Washington led by as many as nine in the second half before the Longhorns rallied to take a 65-64 lead with two free throws by Javan Felix with 4:48 remaining.
After Andrews hit a three to put the Huskies back up by four, Texas pulled withintwo when Isiah Taylor’s layup made it 73-71 with two minutes left. The Huskies closed it out with free throws.
“I would say it’s been a long week, but I can’t really say that, it’s only been a long week in terms of days,” Romar said. “It went by so fast. It was very organized in what we had to do, for our guys to go out and do a little sightseeing and learn about Alibaba, and all the things that were involved.
“But it all came down to today. The reason that we came was to play a ballgame. I thought our guys did a tremendous job of hanging in there and scrapping, playing really tough basketball throughout regardless of what the score was.”
After the game, Chriss offered up some of the Mandarin he learned. Prior to the start of fall quarter in September, the players took a three-credit class on Mandarin and the Chinese culture, and were graded on presentations.
“Ni, wo, men — you, me, we,” Chriss said. “It’s kind of like a saying our team has.”
Romar credited the UW staff for preparing the team for the China game, a series that will continue next season when Stanford faces Harvard Nov. 12, 2016.
“They did a phenomenal job of preparing us,” Romar said. “If it were left up to me, I wouldn’t have known what to do for jet lag and to prepare for that and the extended visit.”
Reach sports editor Erik Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Erik_Erickson