Elgin Cook, playing in his final home game for the Ducks (23-6, 12-4), scored 26 points to lead Oregon, while Dillon Brooks added 19, Jordan Bell and Casey Benson 12, and Chris Boucher 10. Oregon finished their season's play unbeaten at home.
“Elgin Cook, in his last game here, was very good," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "Him and Dillon Brooks, they did a phenomenal job. They got the win, so give them a lot of credit.”
“It’s tough, but we’ve got a good group of guys, so we have to keep pushing no matter what," added Andrew Andrews. "I think that’s the best part of our team is having that spirit. To always play hard and be in the game. Oregon blows a lot of teams out here at home and the fact that we kept with ‘em and kept it close shows we’re a pretty good team.
“Once we find out what it is that we need to do to bring it all together for the full 40 minutes, we’ll be fine.”
Washington - under .500 in conference play for the first time all season - were led by Andrews, who scored 21 points. Dejounte Murray scored 20 and Matisse Thybulle 13 for the Huskies (16-13, 8-9).
After a back-and-forth start that saw Washington and Oregon trade leads a number of times, a Casey Benson layin with 13:09 remaining to half gave the Ducks a 14-12 lead - and as it ended up, the last time Washington would see a tie game. Despite only hitting one of six three-pointers in the half, Benson's three with six seconds left gave UO an eight-point halftime lead, 40-32.
But it was the second half where the Ducks tried to break Washington's spirit. An emphatic Cook dunk started out the half in style for Oregon, and then Brooks ran off five-straight to push UO's advantage to 15 before UW called time out.
“In our scout, the first thing we heard was that they are a team of runs, especially at home," said Andrews. "We knew that they were going to make a run. They didn’t have a big one on us; usually they start the game out with one. So it was fitting they started out the second half with one. Since we knew that’s kind of what they do, we answered well to it and kept fighting.”
Undaunted, the Huskies came back with five-straight of their own, but the nex time they were able to cut Oregon's lead to inside their halftime edge was with 14:28 when Murray hit two free throws. At that point it was 51-44. But Oregon reeled off eight-straight to once again give them a 15-point lead.
“Couldn’t get over that hump, couldn’t get it to a one-possession game or take the lead," Murray said. "We just couldn’t. We tried. We fought.”
With 11:24 left to play in the game and the Huskies down 12, it was Andrews' time to inject himself into the proceedings. The senior from Portland scored 12-straight points for Washington, the last of those trimming the lead to six points with 7:07 to go.
“He’s playing as a leader, a captain, point guard," Murray said of Andrews. "I know what he’s capable of, so I’m not surprised. He’s playing really well, getting people involved and letting his game come to him, not forcing anything.”
"He did a tremendous job of keeping us in the game," added Romar. "He had eight assists. He was able to handle their pressure, make good decisions with it. He did a great job."
The Huskies were able to keep that margin for two more minutes, but just couldn't get over the hump to push Oregon's lead to just one possession. Then Cook and Bell made sure the Ducks wouldn't relinquish the score, as they combined for seven points to get UO to 80-67 with 2:58 remaining.
Thirteen points would end up being the final margin of victory.
It was just a tough matchup for the Huskies against the No. 13 Ducks in their house, as Oregon's 1-2-2 extended trapping zone slow UW down, and the Ducks's high-percentage shooting offensively meant they had ample opportunities to set up their zone. And when Washington would get a missed shot, they gave up 12 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second-chance points.
“The thing is, if we get them to miss they don’t get to set up in that, but they shot over 50 percent so they were able to set up in it quite a bit," said Romar. "I thought our guys did a pretty good job. We had one big turnover in the second half, but a decent job of handling it. We weren’t able to really, really attack it as much as we would have liked.
“It’s one thing to break it; it’s another thing to attack it.”
Washington only has two days off before they finish their season at home versus Washington State. The Cougars at 1-15 in Pac-12 play, but Romar warned against complacency.
“We better be serious about it," he said. "We better be serious. The question I get asked after tough losses is always with this group…do you think you’ll have a hangover? Bounce back? That’s not something I’ve worried about. On paper, Washington State has one victory. The last time we were in a situation like this was Santa Barbara. Going into it, we want to make sure that going into that game we’re playing at a high level.”
"As long as we fight I don’t care if we win or lose," added Murray. "As long as we work hard I’m proud of this group of guys and we’ve just got to keep going. It’s not over. (Oregon) was definitely a big game, but we fell short to a good team.”