It was anyone’s game all day at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Heading into overtime for the first time of the conference season, the Washington men’s basketball team found a 77-73 win 10 minutes after regulation ended, leaving the weekend against the mountain schools 2-0.
“It’s hard to win in this league,” redshirt junior forward Nate Roberts said. ”Especially consistently. So for us to come back pretty much from back-to-back games and come out here and fight for two overtimes and come out with the win, was big. Huge for our momentum continuing on to next week.”
Led early by Roberts, Washington picked up where it left off Thursday night. Defense stifled Utah’s movement as the UW offense clicked in the paint. Graduate student guard Terrell Brown Jr. made his usual mark as Washington shot 54.2% from the field and 42.9% from deep during the first half.
Senior guard Jamal Bey, junior guard Cole Bajema, and Brown. Jr all hit threes in the last six minutes of the half. Brown Jr.’s buzzer beater shot pulled his first-half total just ahead of Roberts, who found his season-high score at half with 11 points.
An energetic half of back-and-forth ties began after the break, with the Huskies (11-8, 6-3 Pac-12) and Utes (8-14, 1-11 Pac-12) matching slower offenses, turnover problems, and foul calls. After staying just behind UW for much of the day, Utah got its first lead of the half with 11:07 left, going up 45-44.
The teams flipped leads through junior guard PJ Fuller’s first points of the night, a big dunk from senior forward Emmitt Matthews Jr., and a deflection of a Utah layup off the glass by Roberts.
Washington pulled it within two in the final minutes, and left the game to ride on Brown Jr.’s free-throw attempts.
He made both, and the Utes missed their last second attempt to send the Huskies into overtime for the first time of the conference season.
Not ready to let go of the game, both teams found nine points during the first extra minutes, keeping the crowd at a full Alaska Airlines Arena on their toes. Five of Washington’s nine first overtime points were off free throws, as foul calls dragged out the extra minutes.
The second overtime was much more decisive for UW, as Bajema and graduate student guard Daejon Davis both went on to make swift threes and give Washington a five point lead.
The win moves Washington to fifth in the Pac-12 behind No. 7 UCLA, No. 3 Arizona, No. 15 USC, and Oregon.
“We knew the type of team that we had,” head coach Mike Hopkins said postgame, referring to Washington’s recent success despite low expectations at the start of Pac-12 play. “Now it just goes back to coaching. Can you get these guys to gel quicker?”
Washington will head back on the road this week to take on the Bay Area schools. Looking for its seventh Pac-12 win, UW plays Cal on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m.
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