March 14, 2013
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
LAS VEGAS - Even before it ended, with the result already known, Abdul Gaddy pulled his black Huskies jersey over his sunken face.
Minutes later among his frustrated and emotional teammates in the locker room, Gaddy was still holding back tears.
"We had this game," the senior co-captain and point guard said sitting tall at his locker and facing postgame music that was far from uplifting. "We had it.
"It just don't want it to be my last game."
All Dawgs felt the same way.
C.J. Wilcox scored 19 points but lost a chance to win the game at the end of regulation when Oregon's Johnathan Loyd, beaten by Wilcox, reached back and poked the ball into a mass of legs in the lane as time expired. Third-seeded Oregon took off from there, dominating the early part of overtime with offensive rebounds while sixth-seeded Washington turned the ball over and ultimately lost 80-77 Thursday night in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament at the roaring MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"We competed hard," an obviously spent coach Lorenzo Romar said. "And that's what's so disappointing."
Scott Suggs added 18 points, included 10 early when Washington (18-15) jumped to a nine-point lead. Suggs has 108 points his last five games, by far the best stretch of his five years at UW.
Gaddy added 14 points, five assists and five rebounds with killer six turnovers for the Huskies. They now await a likely bid Sunday night into the National Invitation Tournament for the second consecutive March.
"I mean, I hope it's not my last game," Suggs, Gaddy's senior co-captain, said quietly, "but it feels like it.
"I just gave everything I had."
Wilcox is a fourth-year junior and UW's scoring leader this season at 16.7 points per game. He could leave early to make himself eligible for the NBA draft, though his late-season cold shooting before Thursday's 7-for-12 reawakening while playing through a sore foot quelled some of that speculation.
"I'm completely up in the air. It's 50-50 right now," Wilcox said on whether to return to Washington as a fifth-year senior. "No decisions yet. I haven't talked to my people, and I will do that only after the season is over."
Suggs made four of his first six shots for 10 quick points, and UW jumped to the nine-point lead playing at Oregon's frantic pace. The Huskies were as dialed in and determined as they've been in months, displaying grit on defense and smooth efficiency on offense.
But then fouls started to mount on the Huskies, and the Ducks' aggressive moves turned into buckets or foul shots. With Gaddy and Simmons on the bench with two fouls each for most of the final minutes of the half, UW's lead became a 39-34 deficit at the break.
After Aziz N'Diaye and Shawn Kemp, Washington's two starting posts, failed to take even a shot let alone score in the first half, the Huskies succeeded with a concerted effort to get both the ball down low to start the second half.
And it worked. N'Diaye and Kemp scored on the first two possessions after halftime. Wilcox, shooting as well as he has in weeks and finishing 7 for 12, made a 3, and N'Diaye scored inside to put UW back up 44-43 with 15:50 remaining.
The lead changed hands three times before a steal and lay in by Gaddy and a layup by N'Diaye gave Washington a 56-50 lead with 7 minutes to go. But a 3-pointer by Loyd, his only one of those in the game, re-tied it at 60.
Wilcox tied the game for the sixth time, at 62, with a score in the lane with 1:48 to go. Loyd missed a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left, but the rebound went out of bounds off the Huskies. Gaddy fouled a driving Loyd, who made both free throws with 16 seconds left to tie the game again at 64.
The Huskies called timeout after Oregon, with a foul to give, hacked Suggs outside with 4.4 seconds remaining. Romar drew the play for Wilcox, and UW's sharpshooter caught the ball inside the key and took off past Loyd into the lane.
The path to the basket appeared clear, but Loyd made a great play reaching back and poking the ball from Wilcox. The ball rolled among legs in the now-crowded lane as regulation expired, and the game - though still tied - felt like a massive opportunity lost for Washington.
"Loyd made a good play. I tip my hat to him," Wilcox said.
As Gaddy put it: "Down the stretch, we had the game."
Romar said of the final play of regulation: "We got exactly what we wanted. We got it there. We just didn't get it up to the basket."
In overtime, the Huskies couldn't even get close at times. They turned the ball over on a throw away by Kemp, a turnover and then a charging foul by Gaddy. By then Arsalan Kazemi was erupting inside for dunks and put backs, and Washington trailed 75-67.
Late 3's by Gaddy and Andrews made the score more cosmetic -- but no less painful.
"Sometimes you can go into overtime and feel like, `Oh, man, I can't believe we are going to overtime. We had this.' And the other team can go out and say, `This is not over.'
"Obviously that's how Oregon played."
The Ducks (24-8, 12-6 in the Pac-12's regular season), who beat UW in all three meetings this season - twice by five points or fewer -- will play Utah in the Pac-12 semifinals Friday night. The Utes upset second-seeded California in the earlier game Thursday night.
Gaddy, Suggs, Wilcox and the Huskies fly back to Seattle Friday morning not knowing when they will play next, and not exactly guaranteed that there even will be a next game.
Romar said he certainly hopes his seniors get more chances to play in the 32-team NIT, in which the Huskies advanced to the semifinals in New York's Madison Square Garden last March.
When asked if his Huskies would accept a bid to the 16-team, lower-rung College Basketball Invitational should the NIT not call them Sunday night after the NCAA tournament field is set, Romar said flatly: "No."
Gaddy and Suggs, then, sure are hoping for that NIT invite.
"I just don't want this to be my last game," Gaddy repeated, shaking his head. "These are my brothers. I love playing with these guys and this coaching staff.
"Honestly, I pray to God that we go to the NIT.
"I just don't want to be done yet."