The Huskies came into this game as obvious underdogs to the #8 Arizona Wildcats, and yet there was so much hope among the Husky faithful. There was a great sense of urgency, as if everyone was rallying around the flag for one big game to try and save the season. And so the Dawg Pack was loud, the arena mostly full once bad traffic was overcome. The first minutes of the game made it appear as if dreams really could come true. Washington hit shots early while Arizona turned the ball over again and again, leading to a double-digit Washington lead early in the first half.
For the remainder of the half, Arizona steadied the ship and chipped away until Washington took only a five-point lead into the locker room at halftime. In the second half, the physical defense continued on both sides, and so did the sloppiness. While both teams had plenty of fast break opportunities, the difference was that Arizona capitalized while the Huskies almost always found a way to mess up. A blatant missed shot, an errant pass, it didn’t matter if it was a 4-1 advantage, the Huskies couldn’t get points. And so as both teams struggled to score in the half court, that proved pivotal. As the clock ticked down to the final minutes with Arizona guarding a slim lead, another issue emerged: the Huskies couldn’t hit free throws. They hit 10-17 overall, 58%, several of the misses coming in clutch time, when a few points would have given Washington the lead.
After squandering the opportunities at the line and on the fast break created by one of Arizona’s sloppiest performances of the season, it came down to the final possessions. Down four points with only 26 seconds left, Gaddy threw up a poorly-placed lob to Wilcox that led to a miss and an offensive rebound, and with only 8 seconds left and hope almost gone, the final shot was a corner three-pointer missed horribly by Aziz N’Diaye, a fitting end to a disappointing game that could have been so much more.