LAS VEGAS – Again on the edge, the Washington Huskies couldn’t finish and a second consecutive trip to the National Invitation Tournament appears to be their postseason destination.
The reason sixth-seeded Washington (18-15) is off to the NIT again is because it was bounced out of the Pacific-12 Conference Tournament late Thursday night when third-seeded Oregon (24-8) beat the Huskies in overtime, 80-77.
During a day filled with tight finishes, Washington’s tussle with Oregon was no different.
Two offensive rebounds and putbacks by Tony Woods and Arsalan Kazemi pushed Oregon in front 70-65 early in overtime, the start of a dominating overtime for the Ducks and Kazemi.
The power forward jammed on the brakes, then dove to the hoop, scored and was fouled by Scott Suggs. Kazemi’s free throw put Oregon in front 75-67 with 1:17 to go. Kazemi scored 11 points in overtime.
A 3-pointer from Suggs and a late turnover allowed Washington a smidge of hope, but Suggs was off on another 3-pointer and Oregon hit its free throws. Andrew Andrews hit a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to put a glossy close final score on a game that got away in overtime.
It was tense getting to overtime. An alley-oop to Woods put Oregon in front 62-60 before C.J. Wilcox (19 points) pivoted and scored to tie the game. Washington had the ball with 1:13 remaining and went to Wilcox again. He was initially stripped by Carlos Emory before gathering and hitting a midrange jumper for a 64-62 Washington lead. Oregon called timeout with 39.2 to go.
After a miss from Johnathan Loyd that Washington couldn’t hold, Loyd was fouled by Abdul Gaddy (14 points on 6-of-17 shooting) with 16.6 seconds to go. Loyd made both free throws to tie it at 64 before Wilcox’s ill-fated drive on the final possession.
Aziz N’Diaye and Shawn Kemp Jr. combined for zero first-half shot attempts. They scored the first hoops of the second half, the first signals that Washington was determined to try to score inside in the second half.
The duo had six shots in the first 4:10 of the second half and a goaltending call on one of N’Diaye’s hooks put Washington in front 44-43 with 15:50 to go.
Oregon’s E.J. Singler bounced in a 3-pointer and both teams slogged to a 48-point tie with 11:54 remaining. Gaddy’s strip of Dominic Artis led to scoring break and a 54-50 UW lead with 7:27 to go.
The Huskies pushed their lead to 58-52 when Gaddy gathered his own miss then looped in an awkward shot.
Oregon pushed back. Woods scored and was fouled by N’Diaye. His three-point play, followed by a baseline jumper from Singler, cut Oregon’s deficit to 58-57 with 4:43 to go.
Suggs (18 points) was fouled with 4.4 seconds to go and Washington called timeout. It was able to get the ball to Wilcox who lost control in the lane, sending the game into overtime.
In the first half, Suggs pulled up for a wing 3-pointer on the break and cashed in to put Washington up 23-14 with 10:53 remaining. An 11-0 run was fueled by Suggs and Wilcox, who each started hot early from behind the 3-point line.
Suggs’ 4-for-8 shooting in first half and Wilcox’s 4-for-6 accuracy included consecutive 3-pointers.
The offensive efficiency was fleeting. The Huskies scored just 11 points in the remaining 10:53 of the half. They put up wild shots, turned the ball over and were generally out of sorts offensively. Washington’s last field goal came with 5:35 to play in the half.
Meanwhile, Oregon crept back into the game before taking a 39-34 lead into the half.
Freshman guard Damyean Dotson scored 13 first-half points on 5-for-8 shooting.
The Ducks shot 50 percent and had no easier shot than Singler’s layup just before the buzzer. Singler drove past Desmond Simmons and Kemp Jr. didn’t rotate. Singler easily put the ball in to give Oregon its largest lead of the half.