Andrew Andrews scored 17, Marquese Chriss 15 and Noah Dickerson 14 for the Huskies (13-6, 5-2), while Jakob Poeltl led all scorers with 29 for the Utes (15-5, 4-3), who had five players in double-figures.
The game was a slugfest from the beginning, with Utah dictating tempo and neither team able to score or extend a lead all game past five points.
"These games are marathons," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said post-game. "They’re not sprints. And every possession is crucial. You go the first four or five minutes in the second half where we weren’t up and as active as we needed to be. They took advantage of it. We’ll be able to tell our team, as we continue to tell our team, you have to play every possession in these games.
"We weren’t doing the things that allowed us to do that. Defensively if we want to do that the whole time we have to get up and we have to be creating havoc. We weren’t doing that at all. That’s what the marathon is about. Play Husky basketball so we can dictate the tempo of the game. We didn’t do that.”
Adding to the tense nature of the game was an electric Hec Ed crowd. The announced attendance was 8073, but it felt double. And when Washington would jump into the lead or regain some momentum down the stretch, the crowd responded in a way they haven't for a long time.
“Our crowd was unbelievable tonight," Romar said. "That’s the biggest crowd we’ve had. In the Dawgpack I think there were 1100 I was told. They were out there early and, man, it certainly helped our team. I think they fueled the fire with our guys a lot. When our guys hit some shots and came back you could just see how loud it was and how uplifted our guys were.
"It wasn’t the crowd’s fault. It wasn’t the Dawgpack’s fault. That’s for sure.”
The Huskies, who had been shooting nearly 38 percent from three during conference play, went ice cold, shooting just 6-26 from beyond the arc. But yet Washington still had a chance late in the overtime down two points. Trying to inbound the ball, Utah made it difficult for Andrews to cleanly catch. And then when he did get the ball he tried to drive into a congested key and lost the ball. In the scramble, Utah got possession.
"The way they came out and defended it there was literally nowhere for us to go," said Andrews, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. "A big was supposed to dive down after the end, but they sent me down. I tried to go; there were just too many people in the way for that play to work. Credit to them on good defense.”
Utah caught Washington napping on the in-bounds, lobbing a long pass in to the Utes' Kyle Kuzma, who was fouled by Andrews. Intially called an intentional foul, it was reviewed and changed to a common foul. Kuzma made one free throw, which game the Huskies one last gasp.
Murray put up a pretty clean look from three near the baseline, and it missed. Crisp had to foul with six seconds left and Poeltl made both free throws to seal the win.
“We don’t have moral victories," Andrews said, matter-of-factly. "We made a couple mistakes down the stretch that we shouldn’t have made. We went zone coming out a time out. ‘No threes, no threes.’ We gave up a three. To be one of the top teams in this league we can’t have those mistakes. It’s just something we have to go back on film and learn from. Everything that we got through is always a learning experience. So next time we’re in that situation we’ll be a little bit aware of who the shooters, where they are located, when to help, and when not to help.”
Despite the result, Romar remained confident the Huskies will come out of the loss stronger for their next two games on the road at UCLA and USC.
"We’ve played 19 games," he said. "A lot of these games it just seems like we were down. We lose like we did in Arizona; we comeback and we play a great game against Arizona State. We go on the road and won a game at Washington State in overtime. We come back from 22 points against a very good USC team and we win. We win a double overtime game. The first win we had against Texas, people forget about that. That game was sloppy and all kind of things were going on, but our team played hard and got after it. We were able to come up with a victory. We go to China. We go to the Bahamas. All that stuff and yet we’ve been able to comeback a lot of times and play well. That’s why.
"There’s a large sample size as to why I believe in this team.”