The swelling on his ankle resembled a tennis ball, Andrew Andrews said. That was on Thursday night, after he sprained it in the first half of a blowout loss at Arizona.
On Friday, the star Washington Huskies guard sat out of practice. He also sat out of Saturday’s shoot-around. At the hotel, he iced the ankle, elevated it, received massages, stuck it in the Jacuzzi.
UW trainer Pat Jenkins worked tirelessly to get the thing game-ready by Saturday’s late afternoon tipoff at Arizona State, at which point Andrews said the swelling had been reduced to the size of a golf ball.
“So,” Andrews said, “it was pretty good.”
The Huskies beat Arizona State, 89-85, on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena. They’re now 12-5 overall and 4-1 in Pac-12 play after another entertaining game, another harried finish, another close victory.
And yet again, they couldn’t have done it without Andrews, the Pac-12’s leading scorer, who put forth another all-conference-caliber performance: 30 points (on 10-of-17 shooting), 12 assists, six rebounds. The assist total is a career-best. Andrews had never before recorded a points-assists double-double. And no player in UW history has ever scored that many points and totaled that many assists in the same game.
“Andrew Andrews,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said, “was phenomenal.”
Andrews, the lone senior on a team stocked with freshmen — and those guys played a big part in this one, too — also made all six of his free-throw attempts in the final 34 seconds to keep UW ahead by two scores, atoning for the two turnovers he committed earlier in the backcourt that led to ASU baskets.
When he made his final pair, which gave UW a four-point lead with 6.4 seconds to play, the Huskies had sealed their second Pac-12 road victory in three tries, and salvaged a split of a tricky road trip that began with a 99-67 pasting two days ago in Tucson.
This wasn’t that. The Huskies scored nine points before the Sun Devils’ first basket, and Andrews scored 10 points in the game’s first 5 minutes and 10 seconds.
He finished the first half with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting. He drove and finished at the rim. He made a pair of 3-pointers. He swished a pull-up jumper as the first half expired.
“He’s so dangerous,” said ASU coach Bobby Hurley, whose team fell to 11-7 overall and 1-4 in Pac-12 play, “because he’s got good feel and plays at a good pace, and he makes great reads really quick (and) knows how to use his body very well to get open, even when you do defend him well.”
Still, it became apparent the Huskies weren’t going to cruise to victory once their three frontcourt players — Noah Dickerson, Marquese Chriss and Malik Dime — became burdened with foul trouble. Again.
Chriss committed three fouls in the first half and picked up his fourth a little more than a minute after halftime. Dime fouled out with 15:52 still to play. Dickerson also fouled three times in the first half but survived to play 30 minutes, and he chipped in 10 points.
Still, Romar opted for a smaller lineup down the stretch, and he turned to freshman guard Dominic Green, who played a career-high 20 minutes and showed some encouraging defensive gumption. He also made a big 3-pointer that gave UW a 72-67 lead with a little more than four minutes remaining.
“Sometimes in a situation like that,” Romar said, “when someone’s working and their attitude is the right way, you want to reward them and give them a chance. But we also think he’s a pretty good basketball player.”
Others made big 3-pointers, too. Freshman guard David Crisp made two of them, on consecutive possessions, to push the Huskies’ lead from two points to eight after ASU started to creep back into it midway through the second half.
Matisse Thybulle also netted a pair of important 3-pointers in the final minutes, including a swish from the top of the key that gave UW an 8-point lead with a minute to go. And freshman guard Dejounte Murray filled the stat sheet again, scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
“That’s what growing up is all about, and a team effort. Guys are maturing. And those are the type of things you’re able to see when that happens,” Romar said.
The Sun Devils made it interesting. Gerry Blakes scored and Willie Atwood hit a 3-pointer after a pair of Andrews turnovers, cutting UW’s lead to 83-80 with 37.9 seconds to go.
But the Huskies successfully inbounded to Andrews on each of their final three possessions, and ASU fouled him each time, and he made all six of the ensuing free throws to clinch UW’s fifth consecutive victory in this building.
“That’s the moment I live for,” Andrews said.
Afterward, he said his ankle was “a little stiff,” but if the last two days were any indication, that golf ball could be whittled down to a pebble by the time UW takes the court at home on Wednesday against Colorado.
They will do so as co-leaders in the Pac-12 standings. That means little after just three weeks of league play. But it means more than nothing, especially considering how poorly the Huskies played in that loss at Arizona.
“All day, you could just see there was a lot of focus, and when we came out from the beginning, there was a lot of focus,” Romar said. “Our guys showed a lot of heart and character, again. No one cared who got the credit on that floor. Everybody was for everyone else, and it resulted in a victory.”
Game in review
Player of the game: Andrew Andrews, no question about it. The senior guard scored 30 points and had 12 assists and six rebounds, recording the first points-assists double-double of his career. He is also the first player in UW history to score 30 points and have 12 assists in the same game, and he made six clutch free throws in the final minute to help ice the game.
It was over when: Andrews made a pair of free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining to give the Huskies a four-point lead. All ASU could do after that was heave a meaningless, desperation 3-pointer that missed.
Stat of the game: Arizona State entered the game as the No. 2 free-throw shooting team in the Pac-12 at 71.9 percent, but made 16 of 29 (55.2 percent) on Saturday.
Quotable: “In my mind, Dominic’s the best-kept secret. In practice, he’s ridiculous. He has all this energy. He’s always ready to play. He’s never down on himself about not playing. He knows when Coach Romar calls his name, he’ll be ready to go, so I think as long as he keeps on improving, he’ll be all right.” — Andrews on freshman Dominic Green, who played a career-high 20 minutes
What it means: Any UW fan would have gladly taken a 4-1 record to start league play, and that’s where the Huskies are after yet another close victory. They still foul too much and give up too many easy baskets, but this team is making a habit out of finding ways to win. And splitting this road trip after getting embarrassed at Arizona says a lot about the Huskies’ ability to reset following disappointment.
Up next: Colorado at Washington, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Pac-12 Network.