A rowdy atmosphere was promised by the University of Washington for this basketball game against 23rd-ranked Arizona, and there it was. There were 9,266 people inside Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. And they were loud.
This, at last, was what the Huskies had been waiting for. And for 40 minutes, they played a style of basketball that suited the environment, forcing turnovers and dunking and providing an entertaining back-and-forth with the more seasoned Wildcats.
But the Huskies won’t remember this game for how loud the arena was, or for how hard they played. They will remember that Ryan Anderson, Arizona’s 6-foot-9 fifth-year senior forward, wore them out on the backboards.
That, ultimately, is why the Huskies lost, 77-72, despite forcing 20 turnovers and limiting Arizona — the same team that beat UW, 99-67, in Tucson a little more than three weeks ago – to 39 percent shooting from the field.
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Those numbers suggest the Huskies played well enough to win. These ones, however, do not: Anderson scored 22 points and snagged 15 rebounds. Eight of those came on the offensive end, a figure that matched UW’s total as a team. And though the Wildcats shot a lower percentage from the field, shot a lower percentage from 3-point range, shot two fewer free throws and committed more turnovers than the Huskies, they collected 43 rebounds — 17 offensive, which led to 21 second-chance points — and the Huskies corralled only 29 boards.
For that reason, it was easy for coach Lorenzo Romar to identify why UW lost a game it felt it should have won.
“I don’t think we have to look very far,” Romar said, “(other) than the offensive rebound column.”
Marquese Chriss, a freshman forward who scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 35 minutes, took it a step further.
“It’s unacceptable for one player to match our team’s offensive rebounds,” Chriss said. “I just think we’ve got to work harder on boxing out, keeping big players like that off the boards, wherever we’re at. Doesn’t matter if it’s offense or defense. That’s just unacceptable.”
It’s how Arizona put the game away in the final minute after senior guard Gabe York missed a jumper, the Wildcats leading 75-72, and the crowd on its feet. Anderson seized the rebound beneath the hoop and drew a foul with 16.1 seconds to play, then made both of the free throws — he made 10 of 11 in the game — to give his team a five-point lead.
Andrew Andrews, who led UW with 20 points, badly missed a corner 3-pointer on the following possession, and that was that. The senior guard said he also missed a defensive assignment on a 3-pointer made by Arizona guard Kadeem Allen with one minute remaining, a dagger at the end of the shot clock that put the Wildcats ahead 75-70.
It didn’t help that UW forward Noah Dickerson, a starter, played only seven minutes because of foul trouble. His absence made it harder for the Huskies to box out Arizona’s bigger post players (senior center Kaleb Tarczewski had 11 rebounds for the Wildcats), and it required that junior forward Malik Dime play a career-high 33 minutes — he finished with 10 points and four blocks — and his fatigue might have hurt UW down the stretch.
“That left a big hole. A huge hole,” Romar said. “Noah not only is physical, but he scored 17 points in the first game (at Arizona). So we were without his physicality. … If we’d have had Noah’s services, we could have rotated a little more and kept fresh guys in. I think that may have had something to do with Ryan Anderson doing what he did, also, just us being tired at the end.”
The Huskies (15-8, 7-4 Pac-12) began both halves with big runs. They led 10-2 after a series of dunks and 3-pointers in the opening minutes, and quickly erased a 44-38 halftime deficit with an 11-2 run that put them ahead 51-46. Freshman guard Matisse Thybulle had a hand — or both hands — in UW’s defensive peskiness, notching six steals and three blocks.
But Arizona (19-5, 7-4) responded with a 10-0 second-half run that included one of York’s four 3-pointers. The Huskies tied it on a jumper and a 3-pointer by Andrews, and eventually overcame a six-point deficit to take a 68-67 lead with 3:08 to play on a jumper by Chriss.
But that wound up being UW’s final made field goal. Dime made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 70-70 with 2:30 to play, and Andrews’ free throws with 51.3 seconds remaining stood as the Huskies’ final points.
“If we keep them off the glass,” Andrews said, “then we put ourselves in good shape. It’s just tough. We played well enough to get the win, and just a couple bad plays at the end lead to the loss.”
Game in review
Player of the game: This is an easy one. The Huskies couldn’t stop Ryan Anderson from scoring and couldn’t keep him off the glass, either. The fifth-year senior transfer scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds — eight of them offensive, which matched UW’s total in that category — and made 10 of 11 free throws, including a pair with 16.1 seconds left that accounted for the final margin.
It was over when: Andrew Andrews’ corner 3-pointer missed badly in the final seconds. Arizona simply dribbled out the clock after that.
Stat of the game: Arizona not only outrebounded the Huskies 43-29, but the Wildcats finished with 17 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points to eight offensive rebounds and six second-chance points for UW.
Quotable: “I think we’re really climbing hard and gaining momentum, and I feel like the top is within sight. But we didn’t quite get over the hump, again, tonight. But this is a great group, and we’re going to come back and fight.” — UW coach Lorenzo Romar.
What it means: It’s a tough loss to a good team at home, but not a defeat that should hurt the Huskies’ NCAA tournament profile all that much. But it sure could have helped it had they won this game. And it illustrated again just how much the Huskies can struggle against good rebounding teams.
Up next: Washington at Utah, 6 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU.