The Golden Gophers snapped UW’s three-game win streak on Wednesday when the Huskies’ defense couldn’t come up with one final stop at the very end.
VANCOUVER, B.C. — Mike Hopkins didn’t receive the result he was hoping for, but the Washington men’s basketball coach got the shot he wanted when the Huskies forced a desperate three-pointer in the final seconds Wednesday.
Ahead by a point with 12.8 seconds left, Hopkins feared Minnesota would attack the rim or possibly score on a putback, which explains why UW constricted its 2-3 zone to protect the paint.
Hopkins and the Huskies couldn’t have predicted Gabe Kalscheur, a freshman guard who made just 1 of 4 at the time, would make the biggest shot in the game.
But Kalscheur rose up over 6-foot-8 forward Noah Dickerson for an off-balance three-pointer from the wing that handed the Huskies a 68-66 defeat in the Vancouver Showcase final.
“I thought we did a good job,” Hopkins said of UW’s defense on the go-ahead basket. “I thought they were going to try to get the ball in the high post and try to drive on penetration. I think that’s what they were trying to do and I thought they were going to try to crash the glass because we couldn’t stop them on that.
“We got them down to 2-3 seconds on the shot clock. They were just kind of bobbling it. He shoots a one-legged floater. It wasn’t even a jump shot and it went in. Sometimes that happens.”
Kalscheur appeared to shuffle his feet before releasing a shot that Hopkins was off the mark.
However, Dickerson had a better look and a different opinion.
“When it left his hand, I said he made it,” Dickerson said. “I seen the look in his eyes. I said he made that shot as soon as he shot it over me.”
Minnesota coach Richard Pitino wasn’t convinced at first.
“The way that he shot it I don’t know if I envisioned that,” Pitino said. “But he’s a great kid, he deserves success and sometimes you just have to get lucky. We haven’t been really lucky around here.”
The heart-breaking defeat snapped a three-game winning streak for the Huskies (4-2), who return home for a pair of games against Eastern Washington and UC Santa Barbara before its big showdown at No. 3 Gonzaga on Dec. 5.
The loss also spoiled phenomenal performances from Dickerson, who finished with a career-high tying 28 points, and Jaylen Nowell who tallied 22.
Dickerson sank 9 of 11 shots from the field and 10 of 13 at the line. He also had seven rebounds.
Nowell was 9 of 15 from the field and 3 of 4 on free throws.
UW’s dynamic duo combined for 50 points on 18-of-26 shooting. The rest of the Huskies were 5 of 20 from the field for 15 points.
Aside from Dickerson and Nowell, no other UW player has scored more than eight points in the past two games.
“Not everybody is going to play their best every night,” Nowell said. “At the end of the day it’s all about making sure that first we get ourselves up and then make sure the other guys are playing to the best of their abilities even when they’re not having a good game.
“You can’t really focus on guys whether they have a bad game or not. You can just pick up their energy. You can’t really control who has a good game or who doesn’t.”
For a while, it appeared as if Dickerson and Nowell would be enough to hold off Minnesota, which improved to 5-0.
The late-game drama between the Pac-12 and Big Ten teams who are hoping to make the NCAA tournament proved to be a proper finish to the inaugural tournament, which drew near-capacity crowds on the first two days at Cole Harbour.
However, the Vancouver Convention Center was half full with just 1,680 for Wednesday afternoon’s game and the stillness in the stands was matched early on by a low-scoring first half.
Both teams looked lethargic at the start, perhaps the result of a schedule that forced them to play for the third time in four days. Aside from Dickerson, who tallied 14 points in the first half, everyone else struggled to generate points.
The rest of the Huskies combined to shoot 4 of 18, including 0 of 7 on three-pointers before the break.
As woeful as the Huskies were offensively, the Gophers were worse. Minnesota connected on 6 of 23 field goals, including 1 of 6 three-pointers.
Washington led 25-20 at halftime.
It was just the second time this season that the Huskies had a halftime lead. And it was the fewest points in the first half for a UW opponent since the Huskies held Oregon State to 20 on Jan. 15, 2015.
Washington was ahead by nine points (34-25) early in the second half before surrendering a 10-1 run.
Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy (18 points and 17 rebounds) knotted the score at 35-35 with a dunk at the 13:54 mark.
The Huskies pulled ahead once again and were up 54-47 with 8:38 left, but couldn’t put the Gophers away.
“It’s was a one-possession game,” Dickerson said. “A lot of things could have gone differently for us to take that game and not put ourselves in a situation to lose like that.”
Minnesota guard Amir Coffey (17 points) tied the score at 63-63 with a layup at the 2:46 mark.
From there, neither team led by more than two points.
David Crisp put UW on top after converting 1 of 2 free throws with 1:09 on the clock. The Huskies could have padded their lead, but Nowell picked up an offensive foul before UM’s final possession.
After Kalscheur’s game-winning shot with 2.2 seconds left, Nowell raced down the court and lofted a 35-footer that bounced off the glass.
“We had our chance to put this game away,” Hopkins said. “We just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities.”
- Note: Freshman guard Elijah Hardy fractured his left hand during the Auburn game and will miss 5-6 few weeks. The injury will not require surgery.