LAS VEGAS — When Andrew Andrews’ benign 3-pointer went up and in as time ran out in overtime Thursday night, a fan courtside leaped out of his seat.
Many groaned. Others celebrated. Throughout Las Vegas there were shouts because of the made basket even though it didn’t determine who won or lost — at least on the floor.
Oregon was a four-point favorite over Andrews’ Washington Huskies, according to most sports books. Andrews’ 3-pointer produced an 80-77 final score, which meant Oregon did not cover the spread — making losers of several who thought they had pulled off a win in overtime.
That’s an external example of Washington’s season-long issues of bad always showing up when it appeared something good happened.
Washington’s two games in the Pacific-12 Conference Tournament were no different.
In the opener, the Huskies had Washington State under their thumb, only to let them wriggle free. Washington survived that unraveling for a 64-62 win.
UW was not so lucky in the second game, against the Ducks, despite leverage in the numbers.
The Huskies led by six, 58-52, with 6:24 to go.
They even had a nine-point lead in the first half that ended up a five-point deficit by the break.
On Oregon’s final possession in regulation, Ducks point guard Johnathan Loyd shot a 3-pointer. That was excellent news for Washington since Loyd is a 29.5 percent 3-point shooter. He bricked it, but the Huskies couldn’t grab the rebound.
After the inbounds pass, Loyd was fouled by Abdul Gaddy on a bit of a sell job on an elbow jumper, though the replay showed Gaddy hit Loyd on the arm. Gaddy said afterward he honestly believed he didn’t hit Loyd.
Still, not a bad scenario for Washington, up two, with 14.4 seconds to go. Why? Because Loyd is a 59.6 percent free-throw shooter and had not shot one all night. Still, he was on the line with a chance to tie it.
He hit both. Which led to Washington’s final play of regulation.
After Scott Suggs was fouled by E.J. Singler, Washington had 4.4 seconds to get off a shot. The Huskies ran an inbounds play to isolate C.J. Wilcox at the top of the key. He got the ball in a good spot, but Washington had one big problem.
Wilcox was born left-handed. Growing up, he shot an equal number of jumpers with his left and right hands, per his dad’s orders. Eventually, Wilcox’s father made him pick a preference. Since he was shooting better with his right, he chose that. But, he still does a bunch of daily stuff with his left hand. He even joked, “When in doubt, go left.”
Which is what he did on this play. Wilcox almost exclusively drives left. If he was fouled, he would have gone to the free-throw line. Instead, Loyd left Gaddy and reached in for a clean steal because Wilcox drove to his preferred left where all the help defense was.
So, to close regulation, Washington forced a 3-pointer from one of the Ducks’ worst 3-point shooters and free throws from their worst free-throw shooter among their regulars, and got an isolation play for its best player, yet didn’t win.
Oregon went on to dominate overtime.
“When you have that small window against a good team like Oregon, you’ve got to jump through it or it can close on you, and it closed on us in overtime,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Sitting moribund at his locker postgame, Gaddy often stared at the floor while contemplating one thing: He may have played his last game for Washington.
The Huskies (18-15) are hoping for an bid to the National Invitation Tournament for the second consecutive season. Romar said Washington will not participate in the College Basketball Invitational if invited.
After the NCAA tournament field is announced Sunday night, the NIT field will be revealed. Washington’s résumé is comparable with several participants in last year’s NIT field.
But that’s little solace. The Huskies won’t be in the big-boy tournament for the second year in a row, and coming up with just enough bad to outweigh the good is the reason.todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas