Here, they will remember Stephen Thompson Jr.’s running, leaning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer as a pure form of victory, the shot that gave Oregon State a thrilling, 82-81 win over the visiting Washington Huskies on Wednesday night at Gill Coliseum.
In Seattle, they might instead choose to remember the travel that wasn’t called.
But here’s the thing: No matter how obvious it was that Thompson shuffled his feet before launching the game-winner, the Huskies cannot blame the officials for this most excruciating defeat.
They can instead blame OSU’s 41-25 rebounding advantage. Or the Beavers’ 21 second-chance points. Or the free throw that David Crisp missed with 20.5 seconds to play, or the free throw that Andrew Andrews missed with 4.4 seconds to play, or the fact that Thompson was allowed to catch the subsequent inbounds pass in full stride.
He dribbled against tight defense from UW guard Dejounte Murray, who contested the thing about as fervently as he could without fouling. But as Thompson set his feet — after taking an extra step or two — he let the ball fly before the buzzer sounded, and students stormed the court upon watching it bang through the hoop.
“He traveled,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said, bluntly, in a quiet hallway outside his team’s locker room. “But they didn’t call it.
“We gave ourselves every opportunity to win the game, but we didn’t get it done.”
The loss drops the Huskies to 16-12 overall and 8-8 in Pac-12 play. They will return to this state for a 5:30 p.m. Sunday game against the 13th-ranked Oregon Ducks, a contest they now must win to maintain any hope whatsoever of earning an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. And considering Oregon’s unbeaten home record this season, Wednesday’s loss may well have ended UW’s pursuit of an at-large berth.
Each time it seemed the Huskies might take the lead, Oregon State responded. Andrews, who led all scorers with 30 points and made six 3-pointers, cut the deficit to one point, twice, on a driving layup and a pair of free throws. The Beavers answered, twice, with a pair of free throws by Jarmal Reid and a 3-pointer by Olaf Schaftenaar.
Marquese Chriss cut the deficit to two points with an easy dunk. OSU pushed its lead to six points on a one-handed jam by Gary Payton II and a fastbreak layup by Reid.
The Beavers (16-10, 7-8) went ahead by eight points before Andrews sparked a quick 7-0 run, converting an and-one layup and a stepback jumper to again trim OSU’s lead to a single point, at 68-67.
Finally, the Huskies were able to take the lead, pulling ahead 72-69 after Andrews buried his fifth 3-pointer of the game. After OSU tied the score at 72-72, Murray put the Huskies back in front with a driving runner, then Andrews gave them a 77-72 lead with his sixth 3-pointer of the game. He later extended the margin to 79-73 with a pair of free throws with 1:48 remaining.
“Andrew played exceptionally tonight,” Romar said.
OSU cut the lead to 79-75 on a Drew Eubanks bucket, then cut it to 80-79 after two Tres Tinkle free throws with 5.3 seconds left.
UW inbounded to Andrews. OSU immediately fouled him. Andrews made the first free throw. He missed the second, the ball went out of bounds to Oregon State, and Thompson did the rest.
“The main thing is, we did not want them to get a running start, and they got a running start and caught the ball,” Romar said. “But we just wanted to keep them in front. Dejounte contested the shot as well as you can contest a shot. He did a tremendous job. Guy hit a leaping leaner from 21 feet out.”
The Huskies played very little defense in the first half. But OSU seemed to match that effort. Washington made 8 of 14 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first 20 minutes — a substantial improvement upon the 3-for-22 mark the Huskies posted in their last game, against Stanford — and shot 62.1 percent from the field.
Andrews, the league’s leading scorer, made three 3-pointers in the first half. Chriss made a pair. Crisp, who has struggled for much of the Pac-12 season, made two of his own. Murray made one.
Yet their hot shooting did not produce a halftime lead. Oregon State took a 49-45 advantage into the break, partially because the Beavers shot 58.8 percent from the field themselves, and rebounded six of their 14 misses. They converted those second chances into 13 points, an effort led by 6-foot-10 freshman forward Eubanks, who scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the first half alone.
UW held OSU to just 29.6 percent shooting in the second half, and the Beavers missed 11 of their 24 second-half free throws. Eubanks finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, Tinkle scored 16, Payton added 15, and Thompson led OSU with 18.
Murray scored 15 and Chriss scored 14 for the Huskies.
“We made shots tonight,” Romar said. “They beat us, they pounded us on the backboard, but we made shots. They shot 29 percent in the second half. We did a lot of things, again, that would allow you to win a ballgame. But we don’t have anything to show for it.”