Jan. 13, 2011
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
STANFORD, Calif. -- Pac-10 assist leader Isaiah Thomas was inbounding under the Huskies' basket with 1.1 seconds remaining. Justin Holiday, who had given UW an 11-point lead midway through the second half with scorching shooting inside this bandbox of purple-and-gold horrors, readied for a game-tying shot on a lob pass.
Washington had everything it wanted to win a 12th consecutive conference game, or at least send this grinding night with Stanford to overtime.
Everything except a final, tying swish.
Holiday - an 80-percent foul shooter -- missed two free throws with 2.5 seconds left, then missed a final, fall-away shot from about 12 feet away at the buzzer after that final lob play went awry. That sent the 17th-ranked Huskies to a bitter, 58-56 loss at Stanford Thursday night inside Maples Pavilion.
So ended UW's 11-game winning streak in the Pac-10, its longest since the conference entered its current form in 1978.
"That's exactly what I want, to be the guy to knock down the free throws at the end," said Holiday, holding his head high in a hallway outside UW's locker room. "I just didn't get it done.
"(Then) the plan was for me to get the lob. They contested me really well. ... I mean, there's not much else I can say about it. I missed it."
Holiday had 15 points - all after halftime - and Isaiah Thomas had 14 with seven assists for the Huskies (12-4, 4-1 Pac-10), who had been off to their best start in the conference since beginning 6-0 in 1984.
Washington has won just two times here since 1993.
The Huskies now go to across San Francisco Bay to Berkeley for Sunday night's nationally televised (on Fox Sports Net) game at California (9-7, 2-2).
"Our kids are pretty resilient," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Our guys will be over this. It's only one loss."
Holiday was at the line with 2.5 seconds left and UW down by two, but his first free throw of the night was off the rim and glass to the left. He said that shot felt off from the instant it left his hand.
After a UW timeout, he missed the second foul shot intentionally off the front of the rim in hopes of the Huskies getting a tying put back. Stanford's Dwight Powell got the rebound instead - but fell cradling the ball and was called for travelling. That gift gave the Huskies one more final chance to tie with 1.1 seconds remaining.
While the officials huddled at a sideline monitor and eventually put six-tenths of a second back on the scoreboard clock, Romar drew up a play that wouldn't take long. It that had Thomas lobbing the inbounds pass from the baseline a few feet in front of the rim to a leaping Holiday.
But the Cardinal crowded the lane and took away that option. Holiday was forced to continue running through the lane more toward the wing. Thomas looked for three full seconds before finding Holiday about 12 feet from the basket on the right side. With 6-8 Josh Owens near the 6-6 Holiday, but not quite in his face, Holiday lofted a shot that was so short it never reached the rim.
Holiday fell to the floor as the Cardinal (10-5, 3-1) celebrated the upset.
"He had a decent look. ... He makes those all the time," Romar said. "I thought he rushed it a little bit. I don't know if he knew was that open."
The Huskies, the highest-scoring team in the Pac-10 at 89 points per game coming in, were held to their lowest output of the season against the conference's stingiest defense. This, after a 103-72 dismantling of Oregon State last weekend in Seattle, an 18-point pasting of Oregon a week ago and two gritty, defining road wins at USC and UCLA to begin the conference season two weeks ago.
Owens had 14 points and the winning put back with 29 seconds remaining for Stanford. It was one of many second and third chances the Cardinal got while erasing Washington's 11-point lead in the final 10 minutes.
Holiday had seized that with his scorching shooting coming out of halftime.
Holiday missed all five of his shots in the first half, as Washington found itself behind at the break for the first time all season, 29-28. He couldn't miss in the first 7 minutes after it. The slashing wing made three consecutive 3-pointers, then soared toward the low roof of this 42-year-old building and grabbed an alley-ooop pass from Thomas - who resuscitated a "Raise the Roof" movement with his first college dunk at home last weekend. This time, Holiday slammed it home to put UW up 46-38 with 13:05 remaining.
The lead grew to 49-38 on a signature, left-hand move by the determined Thomas in the lane while he got fouled. He converted the 3-point play and the Huskies seemed in command with 10:37 left.
Then came a flurry of giveaways on fast breaks and failures to box out on some of Stanford's many missed shots.
"I thought that was the game," Romar said, "because we could have extended that lead to 15 or 17."
Holiday and C.J. Wilcox had a two-on-one fast break, but the redshirt freshman was out of control and committed a charging foul in the lane on the final pass.
Then, almost inexplicably, 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye had his shot blocked underneath, after an exquisite pass in the lane from Thomas.
At the other end, Stanford kept collecting rebounds around Huskies who failed to box out their man - a sudden recurrence of an early season problem Romar thought he had solved last month by pairing N'Diaye with 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning in the starting lineup.
"On those easy passes, we didn't make layups. We didn't make foul shots," Thomas said. "They came back. That was all she wrote."
Thomas had publically declared the Pac-10's first 18-0 conference record was Washington's goal.
"We think we are that good," he maintained, on his way to his team bus late Thursday night.
"Now, we try for 17-1."