The Washington Huskies ( 17-6, 7-3 Pac-12) put themselves in the thick of the Pac-12 Basketball Conference Championship race with a gutty never say die 78-75 win over Conference leader and No. 9Ranked Arizona Wildcats (19-5, 9-2) Saturday night in front of the programs third sell out of the season.
Dominic Greens three-point basket at the buzzer gave the Huskies a home sweep of the Arizona schools and won all three of their last three home games
The game against the Wildcats was always going to be an emotional one for the Husky players and coaches as it marked the return of former Husky Head Coach Lorenzo Romar. Romar spent the last fifteen years as the Husky head coach before he was let go by the University last year and picked up by Arizona head coach Sean Miller as an assistant coach
After the welcome festivities were finished there was the small matter of a basketball game between two teams looking to continue their winning ways. For Arizona, the intent was to continue its dominance over the Huskies and make it eight consecutive wins.
For the Huskies the intent was to snap an eight game losing streak to Arizona, win four consecutive conference games and gain some respectability in the conference and Nationally as a legitimate contender for the upcoming NCAA Tourney in March.
The Huskies clung to a 35 to 28 first half because of their ability to put the ball in the net. The Huskies were 15-29 from the field for a respectable 51% compared to the Wildcats who struggled with a 36.4% shooting percentage after making just 12-33 shot attempts. What kept Arizona in the game was their three-point shooting. The Wildcats made 3 -7 threes for a 42.9 % shooting percentage.
The second half was a reversal of the first half in that the Huskies struggled from the field while the Wildcats found their shooting touch. The Huskies made 15 of the 34 shots they took from the field while the Wildcats made 19 of the 29 shots they took.
What kept the Huskies in the game was their tenacious defense against the Wildcats gifted dynamic duo of 7 footers in Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic. Ristic came into the game as the reigning Pac-12 player of the week.
The Huskies had a 13 point lead at 49-36 with 15:57 left in the game but their inability to execute in the halfcourt saw that lead dissipate to a one point advantage at 50 to 49 with 11:57 left in the game. The Wildcats were able to tie the game at 56 with 8:59 left in the game and took their first lead of the second half at 63-62 with 6:26 left in the game.
Noah Dickerson gave the Huskies a 75-73 lead with 43 seconds left in the game only to see Ayton tie the game at 75 all with 22 seconds left. Ayton had an opportunity to give the Wildcats the lead on the play but missed the free throw. Ayton made up for the missed free throw by blocking Jaylen Nowell shot with four seconds left in the game only to see Dominic Green drain the buzzer-beating three-pointer.