The 14th-ranked Washington Huskies rallied from 12 points down to struggle past Montana, 63-59, Sunday at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Junior guard Venoy Overton, who was benched after being late for a morning shoot-around, came off that bench to save the Huskies at crunch time.
On consecutive trips down the court in the final seconds, he hit two free throws, blocked an Anthony Johnson 3-point attempt to tie the game, and then provided the final margin with a closing free throw.
“Coach (Raphael Chillious) kept telling me when Johnson crosses over and comes to his left he’s most likely going to shoot,” Overton said. “I kind of timed it right.”
Johnson, who played at Stadium High School, said Overton may have saved the game for the Huskies.
“If he wouldn’t have blocked the shot, I had the feeling it was going in,” he said. “But I didn’t know he had that much vertical.”
UW opened with two new starters: Abdul Gaddy, who took Overton’s place, and Tyreese Breshers, who played his way past Darnell Gant.
Isaiah Thomas hit some key shots during UW’s closing run, and he ended as the Huskies’ leading scorer with 13 points. But those points didn’t come easily as he missed 11 of the 16 shots he took from the field. Senior Quincy Pondexter also struggled, with seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.
“If we would have shot the ball better, obviously we would have maybe had a little bit of an easier road tonight,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “But again, I wouldn’t trade the way this game went for anything, because it’s going to prepare us for down the road.”