Dominic Green, in the right place at the right time, sank a corner 3 at the buzzer to propel the Washington Huskies to a 78-75 win over the 9th-ranked Arizona Wildcats on Saturday in Seattle.
Green’s heroics snapped the Wildcats’ seven-game winning streak, and allowed UW to complete the Arizona sweep, greatly boosting its NCAA Tournament résumé.
With six seconds left in a tie game, UW freshman Jaylen Nowell drove the lane and had his shot swatted by UA big man Deandre Ayton.
But the ball trickled out to Green on the perimeter, and his high-arcing shot would grace the bottom of the net and send the blacked-out Hec Edmundson Pavilion crowd pouring onto the court.
LET'S GO.— UW Men's Basketball (@UW_MBB) February 4, 2018
THIS IS HUSKY BASKETBALL.#TougherTogether pic.twitter.com/XBEURx1Uj9
It was one of two clutch shots Green hit late in the second half — and both came immediately after an Arizona block.
With UW trailing 73-70 with under two minutes left, Husky point guard David Crisp had his drive blocked from behind by Keanu Pinder, but was able to recover the loose ball and probe the baseline before handing off a pass to Green in the corner for a game-tying 3.
Green finished with 14 points, including four 3s. Noah Dickerson, who later scored to put UW up 75-73, had a game-high 25 points.
Arizona’s trio of Ayton, Allonzo Trier, and Dusan Ristic had 19, 20, and 21 points, respectively.
An Ayton layup tied the game at 75 with 22 seconds left, but he could not finish a three-point play to give UA a late lead.
Ayton was 9-of-16 from the field, but just 1-of-3 from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats trailed 35-28 at halftime and by as many as 14 in the second half, before they went on a 17-4 run to cut the Huskies’ lead to 50-49 with 11:57 left.
But Sean Miller was assessed a technical after Ayton was called for an iffy foul (that seems to be a thing now), and the Huskies were able to extend their lead to 56-49 midway through the second half after a Nowell 3.
However, thanks in part to a four-point play by Trier, the Wildcats used a 7-0 run to tie the game at 56 with 8:59 left, capped by a mid-range jumper by Ayton.
Ayton would sink another jumper with 6:26 left to give UA its first lead.
That was also the first lead change of the game, but there would be seven more after that as the final few minutes were a back-and-forth battle, with neither team leading by more than three.
Trier scored 17 points in the second half after him, and the rest of UA’s guards, had a difficult first half against UW’s vaunted zone.
Arizona shot just 36 percent in the first 20 minutes, and Trier, Rawle Alkins, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright only combined for 5 first-half points.
The Wildcats actually did a pretty good job getting the ball into the middle of the Husky zone, but had trouble converting from there, either forcing up awkward floaters over UW’s bigs near the rim, or clanking open mid-range jumpers.
Ristic was the one guy who was sinking those jumpers, tallying eight first-half points. Ayton was just 4-of-10 in the period.
Both were outmuscled by Dickerson, who had 11 first-half points.
Washington’s effort level was higher too, seemingly grabbing every 50-50 ball. The Huskies had 22 second-chance points to Arizona’s 18.
The second half started poorly for Arizona and the pro-Husky crowd revved up, but the Wildcats began clicking offensively, shooting 66 percent in the period, erasing UW’s double-digit lead.
But 3-point shooting proved to be the difference.
Not just because of Green’s late 3s, but because Arizona was just 2-of-12 from distance, while Washington was 8-of-14. The Huskies did have some luck too, banking in two of their 3s.
Arizona’s biggest advantage — its size — was nearly nullified by Dickerson who went toe-to-toe with the Wildcat bigs, though Ristic and Ayton would both finish with double-doubles.
Outside of those two and Trier, the Wildcats didn’t get much production.
Alkins, back in the starting lineup, was 2-of-11 for 4 points, and Jackson-Cartwright had 5 points, though both did make clutch shots to either tie the game or give UA a lead.
In all, it was a disappointing loss for the Wildcats (19-5, 9-2 Pac-12) who wasted an opportunity to build on their first-place lead, as the second-place USC Trojans lost to the UCLA Bruins earlier in the day.
But Arizona will have another chance to create some separation in the standings next week when it hosts UCLA and USC on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire