The Huskies had a one-possession game on their hands with under four minutes to play but failed to catch a break, missing out on the upset of the season against No. 5 Arizona Saturday. The Pac-12 Conference leader sent Washington to its ninth consecutive loss, 76-68, in UW’s final home game of the season (box).
Sophomore forward Noah Dickerson captured the disappointment.
“We were right there,” Dickerson said. “That’s all I thought: ‘We were right there.’ If we had gotten a rebound, a shot goes in, it was right there. Everybody played hard, we just came up short.”
As fans filed up the stairs at game’s end, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar grabbed the PA microphone, stopping the crowd to thank them for their attendance and support despite the team’s record.
Markelle Fultz sank one of two free throws with 3:56 remaining to bring Washington (9-18, 2-13 Pac-12) within three. But the Huskies failed to score a field goal in the game’s final 4:41, allowing Arizona (25-3, 14-1 Pac-12) to pull away at the charity stripe as the Huskies fouled.
Whistles hurt the Huskies late. Carlos Johnson had a layup wiped out by a charging call, and less than a minute later was rung up for offensive basket interference when he tried to tip in a ball sitting on the rim. On the defensive end, Noah Dickerson absorbed contact from Allonzo Trier but was called for a blocking foul, despite claims that Trier lowered his shoulder into the collision.
For Romar, the missed shots and unlucky bounces were just the vicissitudes of the basketball gods.
“Anytime you’re competing at a high level, it’s frustrating when it doesn’t go your way,” he said. “That’s part of basketball, that’s part of sports, the ebbs and flows of the game. That’s why you have to be mentally tough.
“We’ve been talking about just trying to get better. We can’t reverse the season, or do anything about our record, but we can try to get better. It’s a testament to our young guys to come out here and play the way they did. It’s a testament to our supporters that came out here and almost filled the place up. It gave us a big lift tonight.”
The lift showed. The generously measured six-foot-one guard David Crisp won a rebound over the head of Chance Comanche, 10 inches taller. Dickerson battled under the boards, scoring 14 points in the paint and snagging nine rebounds.
Malik Dime played his first game since breaking a finger against Oregon State Jan. 7, as well as ending a suspension for slapping a Colorado fan in Boulder Feb. 10. Coming off the bench, Dime scored only two points, but made a defensive impression in his final game at Hec Ed with four blocks and a steal.
Markelle Fultz remained the star, 7-of-16 from the field for 26 points and six assists, though he missed five of his 15 free-throw attempts.
Romar refused to say whether Fultz was leaving the program for the NBA at season’s end, saying any comment would get blown out of proportion. He did, however, praise the freshman’s contributions.
“Markelle has laid it all out on the line this year for this team, for this program, for this university. He has taken school seriously all year and is still taking school seriously. He has not come in with a sense of entitlement. He has not come in with the attitude of, ‘I’m going to rent out your program for a little bit.’
“He has been totally invested . . . The ‘pressure’ comments people have made about him because we haven’t won, (saying) ‘it’s his fault’ – he has done everything imaginable to help our team.”
Players showed improvement, but the overall effort remained disjointed. Washington allowed 23 points off 16 turnovers, similar to their last-second loss to Arizona State Thursday. The Huskies also gave up 17 second-chance points.
Arizona was without the services of seven-foot center Dusan Ristic and senior guard Kadeem Allen, complicating things for the Wildcats. Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen scored 26 points, while Trier added 21.
The Huskies play Washington State (12-15, 5-10 Pac-12) in Pullman Feb. 26 (5:30 p.m., ESPNU).