Huskies rally past Eastern Washington, 81-77
Washington remained unbeaten with several big plays in the final minutes to beat Eastern Washington. Robert Upshaw, who scored 21 points, gave the Huskies their first lead since early in the game with 1:27 to play.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Grambling @ Washington, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
Despite trailing by double digits in the second half against Eastern Washington, the 17th-ranked Huskies never wavered or lost belief that Sunday’s game wouldn’t end just like it did in 2013.
“We stayed together,” sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss said after an improbable 81-77 win Sunday afternoon. “It just goes back to our competitiveness. Our competitive nature doesn’t allow us to give up.
“We’re going to keep fighting until the buzzer sounds. And when you do that and you play 40 minutes, you’re tough to beat.”
The Huskies trailed for close to 35 minutes and Eastern Washington, which knocked off Indiana on its home court three weeks ago, looked poised for another big upset in front of 6,184 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Down 58-48 with 11:22 left, Robert Upshaw kicked off a second-half rally when he dunked to score. The Huskies then outscored Eastern Washington 23-12 to go ahead 71-70 with 1:27 left, with Upshaw’s tip-in shot capping the run. It was their first lead since the 13:05 mark in the first half.
“Long day at the office,” Upshaw said. “Man, that was tough.”
Washington’s ninth straight win over Eastern Washington was perhaps a little tougher than the Huskies expected. Still, the Huskies (8-0) kept their record perfect for their best start since 2005.
Upshaw proved to be the difference for Washington. He finished with a personal-best 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds, which were a season high. He also had six blocks.
“That’s what I need to do to help my team win and that’s what I’m going to do,” Upshaw said when asked about his putback that gave the Huskies the lead. “I was in the right place at the right time and we were there.”
After Upshaw’s basket, Williams-Goss and sophomore guard Darin Johnson drained clutch three-pointers in the final 75 seconds that gave the Huskies a 77-72 advantage.
Eastern Washington didn’t go away easily.
Tyler Harvey, who scored 21 points, drained a long three-pointer that cut the Eagles’ deficit to two points (79-77) with 28 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, the Huskies’ Andrew Andrews capped the scoring with two free throws. He was 12 of 13 at the line and finished with 18 points.
Upshaw, 7 feet, helped Washington hold Eastern Washington to 31.6 percent shooting in the second half. The Eagles, who entered the game shooting 52.5 percent, shot a season-low 36.2 percent.
“That’s six inches we can’t make up,” Eagles coach Jim Hayford said. “We did throw our 7-footer in there for a couple minutes, but (Upshaw) is too athletic. He’s tall, he changes the game at the rim, and I thought that had a difference on our field-goal percentage in the second half.”
Washington also used a decisive free-throw disparity to take control. Even though Upshaw was 5 of 14 at the line, the Huskies made 24 of 37. They were 24 of 31 in the second half.
The Eagles lamented yet another second-half collapse. Last year, the Huskies trailed the Eagles by 11 points midway in the second half before cruising to a 12-point win.
“We did say, ‘Hey, we were in this position last year,’ but it’s been multiple times this year when we’ve been down at the half,” Williams-Goss said. “We were losing to Seattle U at the half. We were losing to Long Beach State at the half. So we tried to draw on recent experience. Hey, we’ve been here before and we can get through it.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com.