He missed the shot this time.
Had it lined up. Got it off with plenty of space between him and the defender. Watched it arc toward the cylinder and thought it would go in again, just like it did against this team in this building last season.
Instead, Andrew Andrews watched his late two-point jumper catch iron and bounce into the hands of an opposing player, the decisive letdown — though hardly the only one — in another deflating Washington Huskies loss, this one 81-80 to the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon before a remarkably hostile crowd of 9,476 at the Coors Events Center.
Last year, Andrews made a step-back jumper with three-tenths of a second remaining to lift the Huskies to a 54-52 victory over Colorado in Boulder. He’s made other clutch plays since and has proven himself something of a steady hand for the Huskies in the final minutes of close games.
Just not this time.
“Same shot as last year,” said Andrews, who scored 18 points, 11 of them during UW’s 18-6 comeback run in the final 5:13. “Felt good when it left my hands. Roll with the punches, though. Like I said earlier in the year, I take those shots. I like to be in that situation. Sucks when you miss ’em, but there will be more opportunities.”
And there were plenty of opportunities for the Huskies to win this game, or at least put themselves in a better position to win it in the final minutes. Washington looked “like we were running in mud” in the first half, coach Lorenzo Romar said: a step slow defensively, too careless offensively. So the Huskies trailed 46-34 at halftime, at which point Colorado had outrebounded them by a margin of 33-18. The Buffaloes eventually claimed 55 total rebounds to the Huskies’ 35, including 20 offensive boards on 41 missed field-goal attempts. Not good.
“The first half killed us,” Romar said. “We did not put forth the type of effort in the first half that we did the second half. And you just can’t do that with so much at stake.”
Colorado forward Wesley Gordon had eight offensive rebounds (13 in all) by himself, and he led the team in scoring with 17 points, a career high. Those were significant contributions considering the absence of leading scorer Josh Scott, CU’s 6-foot-10 senior forward who ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in rebounding.
Scott sat out of this game because of an ankle injury, which makes UW’s failure on the defensive glass that much more perplexing.
“We’ve just got to stop looking once the shot goes up. That’s our main problem,” Andrews said. “Shot goes up, we’re all looking at the rim instead of just finding a man, hitting him and then going to get the rebound. We rely too much on our athleticism.”
Still, they pulled themselves back into this one in the early minutes of the second half, ripping off a 13-2 run out of the locker room to cut Colorado’s lead to 48-47. The Huskies did it by forcing turnovers. CU committed 22 total, the primary reason UW was able to hang around despite shooting only 39.1 percent from the field.
The Huskies (15-10, 7-6 Pac-12) also benefited from one of freshman forward Marquese Chriss’ best games. He scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked six shots in 36 minutes.
But the Buffaloes (19-7, 8-5) countered with another big run of their own, taking a 72-67 lead after Josh Fortune’s jumper with 7:38 to play. At that point, the Huskies looked finished.
Again, they rallied. It started with a jumper by freshman guard Matisse Thybulle, who tied a career-high with 16 points. Then Andrews converted an and-one and made a 3-pointer. Dominic Green made a 3-pointer.
Dejounte Murray, who finished with 14 points, added a pair of baskets on a pair of tough drives, and Andrews made another 3-pointer to pull UW within 79-78 with 1:36 to play. In between, the Buffaloes gave the ball away and missed shots.
Colorado missed another shot after Andrews’ big 3, but Gordon corralled the offensive rebound. Chriss blocked his putback attempt, but George King grabbed yet another offensive rebound. Chriss fouled him, and King made both free throws to put the Buffaloes ahead by three points.
Then the Huskies got lucky. Chriss and Buffaloes guard Thomas Akyazili pursued a loose ball out of bounds in the corner near UW’s bench. Akyazili felt that Chriss fouled him, and, apparently out of frustration, bumped Chriss with his shoulder during the dead ball.
Akyazili was called for a technical foul, Andrews made the subsequent free throws, and UW got the ball back trailing by just one point with 56 seconds to play.
The Huskies turned it over but got the ball back after Fortune missed a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left. Murray drove and missed a short runner, and the ball skipped out of bounds off a Colorado player with eight seconds remaining.
After a timeout, Andrews dribbled left and pulled up for the mid-range jumper that didn’t fall. UW did get the ball back with exactly one second left, but Thybulle’s full-court inbounds pass sailed over Chriss and out of bounds.
It was a frustrating end to a game the Huskies essentially lost in the first 20 minutes.
“It’s a tougher loss because we didn’t bring it the way we should have in the first half,” Romar said. “If you do that, now the game goes down to the last shot or two, you put yourself in that position (where) you have to come up with something heroic to win the game. You would hope it would have been a different story if we would have played different in the first half.”
Game in review
Player of the game: Marquese Chriss put up big stats for the Huskies (18 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks), but the most important player in this game was Colorado forward Wesley Gordon. With star forward Josh Scott out because of an ankle injury, Gordon scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds — eight of which were offensive — including a big board in the final minute that led to a pair of made free throws.
It was over when: Matisse Thybulle’s long, baseball-style inbounds pass sailed over Chriss and out of bounds with one second remaining. There was little chance of the Huskies scoring on that play, anyway, but the turnover sealed it.
Stat of the game: Colorado finished with 55 rebounds, 20 of them offensive. Washington finished with 35 rebounds, 12 of them offensive.
What it means: Washington’s first three-game losing streak of the season comes at a bad time. At 15-10, the Huskies likely need to finish the regular season with a 4-1 record to feel good about earning an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament. That’s doable, but they need to clean up their issues on the defensive glass if they’re going to beat anybody.
Up next: California at Washington, 8 p.m. Thursday, Fox Sports 1.