With no NCAA Tournament on the horizon, there was a bit of painful irony in having Arizona’s final home game of the season being shown on CBS.
So it was only fitting the Wildcats would provide their fans watching at home with a 2-hour dose of March Madness-like drama against an opponent they should have had no problem with.
Azuolas Tubelis’ jumper from in front of the UA bench with 5.2 seconds left gave the Wildcats a 75-74 win over the Washington Huskies on Saturday afternoon at McKale Center.
Tubelis finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, grabbing six of Arizona’s 13 offensive boards. He was wide open in the corner after James Akinjo, who had a career-high 26 points, drew the defense toward him in the middle and then dished his seventh assist to Tubelis for the swish that was originally called a 3-pointer.
Such a clutch shot by Azuolas Tubelis. Arizona couldn't lose this game. pic.twitter.com/QyB9DIGgJy— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) February 27, 2021
Kerr Kriisa forced Washington’s Quade Green to put up an off-balanced 3 at the buzzer that airballed, giving Arizona (17-8, 11-8 Pac-12) its third straight win and its first weekend sweep at home since last January.
Bennedict Mathurin had 10 points and 13 rebounds, giving Arizona two players with double-doubles for the second time in three games, while Christian Koloko had a career-best 11 points.
Arizona shot a season-low 36.5 percent but had 13 offensive boards, turning those into 18 points, while holding Washington (5-20, 4-16) to only one second-chance basket.
The Wildcats led 33-29 at the half but a 6-0 Washington run put the Huskies in front quickly. They led 37-35 before the Wildcats went on an 10-0 run, with five consecutive points in the middle coming from Koloko off a 3-point play and his fourth dunk.
The lead got to nine before Arizona went into a funk on both ends of the floor, which enabled Washington to fight back and tie it at 61 on a 3-point play from Green with 7:09 to go. Five straight points from Akinjo re-established the Wildcats’ edge, only to see the UA go nearly five minutes without a field goal.
A short jumper by Marcus Tsohonis tied it at 69 with 2:33 to go. Akinjo drew the fifth foul on Washington’s Hameir Wright who had a career-high 18 points and was 5 of 7 from 3, and made 1 of 2 free throws to put Arizona back up by one.
Wichita State transfer Erik Stevenson put the Huskies ahead 72-70 with 1:24 left, then Akinjo drained his fifth 3 to put Arizona up 73-72 with 1:15 remaining. Two Green free throws gave Washington a 74-73 lead with 1:01 to go, then after Akinjo had his drive blocked Kriisa drew a charge on Green with 18.2 seconds remaining to set up Tubelis’ game-winning shot.
Arizona started 3 of 18 from the field and missed its eight seven 3s, falling behind 15-12. The Wildcats didn’t make consecutive baskets until Koloko dunked and then Akinjo hit a 3 during a 7-0 run to go up 19-15 with 7:49 left.
Washington hit five straight shots to take a 26-25 lead with 3:45 but didn’t make another field goal the rest of the first half, allowing Arizona to build a 4-point halftime lead.
Seniors Terrell Brown Jr. and Ira Lee started for Arizona, but Lee only played the first four minutes while Brown had arguably his worst game as a Wildcats with 2 points and an assist on 1-of-11 shooting.
Arizona finishes up the 2020-21 season Monday at Oregon, a game that will tip at 7 p.m. MST and be shown on ESPN2. The Wildcats, who lost 63-61 at home to the Ducks on Feb. 13, have dropped six in a row in the series and haven’t won in Eugene since January 2015.