In a game that was as brightened by the presence of senior guard Andrew Andrews as it was marred by the rest of the roster, the Huskies downed the last-place Cougars 99-91 Wednesday night at Hec Ed (box) in the Pac-12 regular-season finale for both. Andrews scored a career-high 47 points, second-highest total in school history, but Washington went 2-of-16 from the field in the final 7:14.
“It’s fun to watch a fifth-year senior who has been so loyal to the program go out like that,” said coach Lorenzo Romar. “When I was continually asked about Andrew’s slump a couple weeks ago, I think I said, ‘He goes through those every year, but when he breaks out of them he really breaks out of them.’”
Point taken. Basketball is sometimes compared to jazz, making Andrews’ Wednesday night a 33-minute, virtuoso solo. After a shaky 1-of-6 start, Andrews flipped a switch, floating layups and dropping in threes, as well as a cold-blooded 16-of-17 performance from the charity stripe. The 47 equaled the most in the NCAA this season.
“That first six or seven minutes,” Andrews said, “the moment’s so big and everyone’s rooting for you, everyone wants you to make the shot. I missed my first couple shots, and then I don’t know what happened. It was one of those nights where it goes by so fast, everything’s just clicking and going your way.
“I don’t even remember much from it right now . . . when you get in that type of zone, you just black out and start playing.”
Whatever was going through Andrews’ head, his play was vital to turning around an ugly start. Trailing by five with 6:24 to play in the half, Andrews scored 13 points in the Huskies’ 23-8 run to intermission, capped by a 30-footer from Dejounte Murray at the horn.
Washington (17-13, 9-9 Pac-12) stretched its lead to 27 with 7:14 remaining, but once Andrews came out of the game, the magic stopped. Without its conductor, Washington lost its rhythm.
It was so bad Romar was forced to bring back Andrews after he already received a standing ovation when he took a seat with three minutes left.
While Washington State (9-21, 1-17 Pac-12) never seriously threatened in the second half on the way to its 16th consecutive loss, the game highlighted deficiencies within the Huskies’ roster. Pointing to lingering concerns about guarding against size in the low post, WSU junior forward Jake Hawkinson finished with 23 points and 17 rebounds, his 20th double-double of the season.
The Huskies’ bench continued to struggle, outscored 31-10 by Cougars reserves. Shooting was an issue for Washington as well — 38 percent from the field, excluding Andrews’ stats.
Wednesday night was a one-man show. The game will be memorable for fans who saw Andrews come within two points of Bob Houbregs’ 49, the school record set in 1953. Romar said that had he been aware how close Andrews was to the mark, he would have left him in the game.
That sort of magic is almost always impossible to repeat, and the Huskies would be daft to count on a similar performance in the conference tournament Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Washington will need to shake off the shooting funk to make a run at grabbing the Pac-12’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, its only realistic shot. On a night that was all for him, however, Andrews stepped up and made an historic memory on the hardwood of Hec Ed.