The T-Mobile Arena floor. The post-game interview room. Or in his team’s locker room. There was nowhere David Crisp could go where he didn’t appear to be isolated while still being the center of attention at the same time.
He couldn’t escape his most damning moment as a Washington Husky. UW was in overtime and down by two points with 10 seconds left. Huskies coach Mike Hopkins called for a high-ball screen. It’s a play Crisp has ran hundreds of times this season between games and practices. A brief bit of miscommunication between Crisp and Dominic Green saw the Huskies throw away their chance at either a win or at the very least, forcing another overtime.
That particular moment — along with why he opted to go for a layup instead of a game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds left— were questions Crisp and the Huskies answered Wednesday after a 69-66 overtime loss to Oregon State in a Pac-12 Tournament first round game. It was the second time out of three games the Huskies (20-12) fell to the Beavers (16-15) this season.
All three games were decided by less than three points.
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“To be honest with you, losing is the worst feeling on planet Earth,” Hopkins said. “It just is what it is. The regular season, preseason was these guys. They bought into a system. They had great leadership, and they busted their butts every day, and they competed. You've got to give them all the credit.”
Close games aside, it was an affirmation of two things. The first? UW’s bid for a NCAA Tournament berth is over. Beating OSU would have set up a Pac-12 quarterfinal match against USC. A win over the Trojans would have strengthened, but not guaranteed, the Huskies’ case for going to the tournament for the first time in more than five years.
Losing to the Beavers further reinforced how the Huskies struggled to close at the end of the regular season. They lost six of their final nine games with three of those defeats being decided by less than eight points. Those circumstances are why it now appears the Huskies are set to play in the NIT.
So much was on the line. What exactly happened to Crisp in those final 10 seconds?
“He listened to his coach,” Hopkins said in an attempt to create some humor while defending his starting point guard.
Crisp, after pausing for a second, cleared his throat and proceeded to answer. He said the Huskies tried running the high-ball screen to Green. The first few looks on the play weren’t there and that when Green circled back, there were mixed signals that led to the turnover.
As for the layup vs. 3-pointer question, the Tacoma native said he drove inside and felt “a lot of contact’ in the hopes of drawing a foul for a three-point play.
His responses came while sitting between Hopkins and Matisse Thybulle on the dais. Crisp was with his coach and teammate but the gravity of the moment gave the illusion as if he was by himself.
It was the same when he reached the UW locker room. Most of the team was dressed while talking to reporters about the team’s ill-fated final 10 seconds while Crisp sat by himself for most of the open locker room interview session.
“We know he’s strong and we know he’ll be able to get through it,” Green said. “Honestly, I say he does a great job. He runs this team very well. It’s just one bad play. Nobody should get on him about it. He does a great job. He goes hard every day.”
Crisp, the Huskies’ third-leading scorer, has had a solid season as the full-time point guard but has struggled with his shooting.
His percentage slipped to 38.1 percent and 28.8 percent on 3-pointers after shooting 41.1 percent and 36.7 on 3s last season. Hopkins has previously said Crisp’s shooting percentage is partially due to the fact he’s rushed into taking attempts late in the shot clock.
And while Crisp averages 2.3 turnovers to 3.3 assists, belying some concern about taking care of the ball, Hopkins has stated that Crisp has had to “sacrifice” parts of his game to make the offense function.
Crisp only had one turnover against the Beavers. It just proved to be the most costly miscue of the season.
“At the end of the day. I’ve always had full confidence in him,” freshman guard Jaylen Nowell said of Crisp. “No matter what. You can’t worry about what anyone else says.”
It was less than a week ago when UW cut a 16-point deficit to four against rival Oregon at the Alaska Airlines Arena. The Huskies had three minutes to trim the lead and potentially win only to fall short.
Crisp told reporters after the game that UW did not have “poise” in those final minutes. He continued by saying he put the blame on himself with the aim of being better going into the Pac-12 Tournament.
“It kills me. Kills me. Because, you see how hard guys work in the offseason and me being an upperclassman, I wanted to lead those guys to something big,” he said. “Something huge we all never experienced. For me to drop the ball like that? It kills me.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark