The largest crowd to see a Washington Huskies basketball game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in four years also included a prized recruit.
Markelle Fultz, a five-star high-school prospect from Maryland who signed a national letter of intent in November to play for the Huskies in the 2016-17 season, flew to Seattle to be in attendance for UW’s Saturday afternoon game against the 23rd-ranked Arizona Wildcats.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar introduced Fultz to students who lined up early Friday morning to get into the arena, and Fultz received a loud ovation when he was shown on the video board during the game.
Afterward, Fultz, a 6-foot-4 guard who was recently named a McDonald’s All-American, played a friendly game of one-on-one against the young son of UW assistant coach Will Conroy. Then Fultz stayed for a while on the Hec Ed court, the seats empty by then, shooting jumpers and chasing down his own misses before walking out of the arena by himself.
He was part of a crowd of 9,266, the most people to attend a UW home basketball game since 10,000 — a sellout — saw the Huskies beat Arizona on Feb. 18, 2012.
Which might have made UW’s 77-72 loss on Saturday afternoon a little more disappointing.
“The way the crowd was behind us and backed us, our guys have been waiting for this for a long, long time,” Romar said. “Andrew Andrews, this is the first time he’s played in a situation like this at home, and I feel like we let ’em down a little bit.”
Andrews, who led UW with 20 points, shared Romar’s frustration regarding the loss. But the senior guard said he felt the fans at least got their money’s worth. The Huskies forced 20 turnovers and had eight dunks, and played a far more competitive game against Arizona than they did in a 99-67 loss on Jan. 14 in Tucson.
“I feel like overall, game-wise, we delivered,” Andrews said. “We played a completely different game than last time we played them. We took them down to the wire. Just a couple miscues and the game could have been ours. So I think from the fan (standpoint), we love that they were there, feel bad we couldn’t get the win, but I think our effort was there and the energy definitely helped us.”