LAS VEGAS -- The Oregon Ducks got caught up in Washington's in-your-face style, playing at a speed even they couldn't handle.
Once they slowed it down to their usual breakneck pace, the Ducks were able to wear the Huskies down.
Chris Boucher had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 8 Oregon withstood Washington's early aggressiveness and a late flurry to hold off the Huskies 83-77 in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals Thursday.
"We knew they were going to try to get up in our space and deny us," said Oregon's Elgin Cook, who had 19 points. "We were all sped up at first, and I just wanted to tell everybody to calm down and keep their composure."
Top-seeded Oregon (26-6) got off to a sluggish start, but built an 11-point lead midway through the second half. Andrew Andrews brought the Huskies back, scoring 10 of his 19 points during a quick flurry to help eighth-seeded Washington (18-14) pull within two late.
The Ducks held, though, hitting four free throws in the final 33 seconds to earn a spot in Friday night's semifinals against No. 15 Arizona or Colorado.
"We had bad turnovers today. We didn't make very good decisions. We'll have to clean that up," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "But our effort on the boards, I think, was the difference in the game. We were able to make just enough plays to get by."
Washington's comeback bid came up short and so did its chance to get into the NCAA Tournament bracket.
Realistically, the Huskies needed to win the tournament and losing in the quarterfinals all but assures they'll be in the NIT. Still, a postseason bid after being picked 11th in the Pac-12 isn't a bad consolation.
Marques Chriss scored 19 points Washington.
"I thought we probably surpassed a lot of people's expectations," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "In terms of our own expectations, we felt we could go a little bit further than we did. But it wasn't due to a lack of trying and selling out for the cause of what we wanted to do."
The Ducks closed the regular season strong, winning their final five games for their first conference title since 2002. One of those finishing wins was against Washington on Feb. 28, when Cook scored 26 points in the 86-73 victory.
The Huskies put a dent in their NCAA Tournament hopes by limping to the finish, but kept a glimmer of hope alive with a rout over Stanford in the tournament's opening round.
Washington got off to fast start against the Cardinal and kept rolling against Oregon, hitting 10 of its first 13 shots -- four of those 3s -- to go up 26-14.
Oregon was ragged early, forcing shots and passes in traffic, riling coach Dana Altman with numerous defensive breakdowns.
The Ducks settled down and started flying, harassing the Huskies into difficult shots, scoring in transition after turnovers and misses during an 11-0 run that helped them take a 39-38 halftime lead.
But after all the 3-pointers and soaring dunks, the second half turned into a defensive wrestling match, with bodies hitting the floor nearly every trip.
The Ducks gained a little separation midway through, when Dorsey hit a 3 andDwayne Benjamin scored on a three-point play to put Oregon up 64-54.
Andrews brought the Huskies back. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and turned a steal into a pair of free throws that cut Oregon's lead to 71-69 with 5 minutes left.
Washington kept the Ducks within reach from there, but never could catch them.
"To look at this season as a failure would be kind of dumb on our part," Andrews said. "So you just take everything and learn from it. We had an incredible season. I said, we beat all the odds as far as what the media thought and what the coaches poll thought. So I couldn't be prouder of the guys in this locker room."
LORENZO ROMAR QUOTES
On his team “This group, they’re just right. This group is right. They do the right thing. They want to please. When you have a group like that, you want them to be rewarded. You want to see them reach their dreams. And our guys’ main dream was to get to the NCAA tournament this year. When you have a special group like this and it doesn’t happen it hurts. It hurts to see.”
How bad did you want this for Andrew Andrews “That’s part of it. We walked in the locker and saw him sitting alone by himself. It was just “wow.” He busted his tail. No one thought Andrew Andrews would do anything this year. And he gave it all he had. I know how bad he wanted it.”
On what area needs the most improving “Well, obviously the offensive end always. But with that being said, you guys know in sports it’s a matter of inches. The ball doesn’t go in at Oregon State, we don’t give up a six-point lead at Oregon State. We make free throws in another game, we make shots in another game and we’re talking a different story this year. When I look back given the roster that we had and the newness of our group – there weren’t a bunch of fifth year seniors, there weren’t a bunch of JUCO transfers. You look back and say if we could have been better in this area – I thought we got better in a lot of areas. I told our team I wish we had two more games right now, because now the way that we’re playing is a whole lot better. I think we’ve been playing better the last few weeks.”
Is it harder to look to next year when there is uncertainty about Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss staying “I think we have a group of guys – guys coming in, guys sitting out, guys that will have more experience – we’ll wait and see what happens with all of that, but I like our group. I like this group.”
Do you think the group will get excited to play in the NIT “Today is not fun. Tomorrow won’t be fun. But if our name is called on Sunday to go play we’ll get excited just like always. I’m always asked ‘do you guys think you’ll be able to overcome this last – guys have always raised up. We’ll rise up. This group enjoys playing. We’ll enjoy playing again.”
On what this group can do with Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss returning “Having a lot of fun. That’s what I would say.”
DANA ALTMAN QUOTES
Coach, some opening comments about the game? "Well, we knew we were going to be in for a tough game. Washington's a very talented team, very well coached. Their performance yesterday was outstanding. So going in we knew it was going to be a 40-minute fight.
"We had a ballgame with them two weeks ago that was a tough game. They've got really good players, and they were playing with a purpose. Andrew Andrews trying to keep it going and Dejounte, they were really trying to keep their season going.
"They were a tough match-up for us, but I liked our effort. The guys on the boards were really good. We had bad turnovers today. We didn't make very good decisions. We'll have to clean that up. But our effort on the boards, I think, was the difference in the game. We were able to make just enough plays to get by.
Coach, in the tunnel before the game you guys were yelling about winning the first four minutes. You come out and kind of don't win the first four minutes. At that point as you're regrouping, what are you thinking? "We didn't get off to a good start. We were down 12 there ten minutes into the game. So Washington came out and hit us pretty good. The teams yesterday who got out kind of ran downhill, though, the rest of the game. So it was a big concern.
"We needed to get some stops. I thought we had some guys come in and give us a big lift there. Kendall Small really gave us some good minutes there. We finally got some stops. Out of the gate I think they were at one timeout 8-for-10 or something like that from the field.
"So we didn't do a very good job defensively. Offensively our ball movement wasn't very good to start the game. So, again, they got out to that big lead, and that was very concerning.
Coach, if the Arizona Wildcats end up winning this game, what would it take to knock off Arizona for the second straight time? "Well, it will be a difficult task. They're very well coached. They're very talented. But our guys, we did a good job when we went down there.
"I did tell them if we do have that opportunity, we'll only have 12,000 fans this time instead of 15, 16.
"So it's going to be a tough one, either match-up, for us: Colorado, who is big and physical; Arizona, big and physical. Those two teams are really tough match-ups for us, and we would have to play very well against either team to put ourselves in position to win.
"Both teams are very well coached, talented, and it would probably help us if they went four or five overtimes today to take their legs a little bit.
You had talked about UCLA and the troubles when you played a little too fast. Did you feel in the first half tonight you were playing too fast and that led to some of those turnovers? "Without a doubt. We did some things in that first half and the whole game that we haven't seen for a long time. It's the pressure of the situation. Some of our turnovers we haven't seen since November or early December. Just guys were not strong with the ball and making some poor decisions.
"Our guys want to win. They want to make plays, and, again, that's why we were able to get to the boards. Our effort on the boards was outstanding. But sometimes we get going a little fast on the offensive end, and we definitely did that today. Guys just feeling like they had to make a play. Because of that we only had nine turnovers, which is low on -- excuse me, nine assists, which is a low for a while for us.
"So we're just going to have to slow down, move the ball much better and make plays for our teammates, cut down those turnovers definitely tomorrow.
Coach, what were you saying to them in those breaks? "Well, we wanted to continue to play. We got up 8, 10 there, and we put them on the line I think three or four times in a row. They were 21-25 from the line. They shot free throws very well today, and that's what a focused basketball team does. They go to the line.
"But they're a tough guard. When Andrew Andrews puts his head down and starts attacking the basket, Murray's so talented. So some of it was our defense, some of it was just gifted offensive players taking the ball at the basket."
Kendall's been developing a lot throughout the year, and it seems like it's kind of been a work in progress. On the floor and efforts never seemed to be his issue, but where's he at now to give you those two quality minutes when it is tournament atmosphere? "Well, he gave us four and picked up our defensive effort. He did an outstanding job. Kendall and Roman have been in a tough position all year because of my relationship with these guys and the length I've kind of settled on a seven-man rotation, and we've stuck with that.
"But Kendall and Roman have shown great maturity and professionalism coming every day and working and staying with it. They're going to be called on at different times, and Kendall was called on today. He gave us four outstanding minutes.
"So, again, that's an awfully tough role for a player to take, and it takes tremendous discipline, very unselfish, and he's done a great job with that."
Coach, you went into a little bit of a trap after the start of the game and disrupted their rhythm a little bit with their guards. What were you trying to do there? "Well, we were trying to slow them down a little bit. It was a little more effective. The score was very similar to what it was in Eugene. But they're a rhythm and they get a lot of shots up between four, five, six seconds if they're just allowed to blow the ball up the floor.
"If you saw the game yesterday, they pushed it hard against Stanford and had a lot of possessions in four to six seconds where they just got the ball down. We were trying to keep those to a minimum. Now, they got a few in the first half and a couple in the second half, but they can really get you spread out and their speed can really give you problems.
"So our press was designed to try to slow them down just a little bit so they couldn't get that push, that initial push and really get us backed up."
Dana, in the second half Tyler Dorsey I think three or four threes. Thoughts on the significance of those? It seems like every one of them was a big one to stop a run? "Yeah, he had a tough first half, 2-for-8, he got a little roll there. Once he got one down, we ran a little set for him. He got another one. Ran another little set, got another up with. So, yeah, those two threes, and then he got a third one that was pretty open that he didn't hit.
"But, I thought Chris, his two threes in the first half -- we were struggling. We couldn't get anything going. He hit two threes in the first half, and it got us going. Then Tyler's threes in the second kind of did the same thing. We only hit five for the game, 5-for-17, so you can remember -- I can remember all five of them. So the two in the first half, the three in the second half I thought gave us a big lift."