The arena was more than half full, the final box score will show, but the atmosphere suggested a gathering far less imposing.
There was no energy at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night. No buzz. Even the fans who did come to watch the UCLA Bruins host the Washington Huskies seemed disinterested, and it’s worth wondering now if the home team might have followed their lead.
For a half, anyway. After that, it was anybody’s game.
And ultimately, in spite of a discouraging collapse, it was the Huskies’ game. They led by 19 points in the first half and 18 points at halftime, watched that lead evaporate throughout a porous second half, but prevailed, 86-84, thanks to a pair of free throws by senior guard Andrew Andrews with 3.4 seconds remaining.
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Andrews, the Pac-12’s leading scorer, finished with 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting. But he made four free throws in the final 42.6 seconds, including the final two after drawing a foul against UCLA’s Tony Parker when he pump-faked him into the air and went into his body to draw contact.
The Bruins’ last-second shot missed, and the Huskies escaped yet again. It was their eighth victory ever against the Bruins in Los Angeles.
This was sort of a strange affair. The Huskies committed 13 turnovers in the first half — coach Lorenzo Romar would prefer they not eclipse that total in an entire game, and they finished with 19 — yet still controlled the action and led 51-33 at halftime.
That’s because they shot 51.4 percent from the field before intermission, and 6 of 10 from 3-point range, and also because they held UCLA to 11-of-28 shooting from the field and watched the Bruins miss eight of their 18 first-half free-throw attempts.
The Huskies’ Marquese Chriss hit a pair of 3-pointers and Matisse Thybulle scored 11 points. Andrews had only four points and three fouls in the first half, but it didn’t matter. The crowd booed after UW (14-6, 6-2 Pac-12) took a 30-13 lead with more than seven minutes left in the half.
UCLA (12-9, 3-5) trimmed its deficit to 68-60 with 9:12 to play, the lowest the margin had been since midway through the first half.
David Crisp, who finished with 11 points, hit a 3-pointer from the wing on UW’s next possession to push the Huskies’ lead to 71-60, but the Bruins responded with an 8-1 run to trim the margin to 72-68 after Bryce Alford’s 3-pointer with 6:10 remaining.
Alford, who finished with a game-high 28 points, tied the score on a layup with 3:26 to play. He gave UCLA the lead with a 3-pointer with 2:05 to play, though Donaven Dorsey later tied it on a corner 3-pointer with 1:20 left.
Andrews gave UW a two-point lead by making two free throws with 42.6 seconds to play, and Alford tied it with 29.1 seconds left before Andrews made his game-winning free throws.
Foul trouble continues to be an issue for UW. The Huskies committed 29 fouls and the Bruins shot 35 free throws.
UW’s Malik Dime fouled out with 7:20 to play. Thybulle fouled out with 6:39 to play. Chriss fouled out with 4:30 to play. Andrews played the final minutes with four fouls.
But he lasted until the end, when the Huskies needed him the most.