Men: Oregon State 86, Washington 84
By Michelle Smith
LOS ANGELES - Top-seeded Washington will not defend its tournament title in the new Pac-12.
The Huskies came back from a 15-point deficit, built an eight-point lead against Oregon State late in the second half and then watched it slip away, as the Beavers came away with an 86-84 victory in the opening game of Day 2 action at the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday.
Oregon State (19-13) will face the winner of the next game between No. 5 seed UCLA and No. 4 Arizona in Friday's semifinal round at 6 p.m.
"I could not be prouder of a team than this team," said Oregon State coach Craig Robinson. "This win is for these guys in that locker room. It is special and emotional for these guys because they've been working this hard since the end of the season last year. In the last four minutes, I saw a team that believed it could win the game."
Washington led 66-58 with 8:46 to go, but the Beavers chipped away from the free-throw line and closed to 79-77 with 2:11 to go on a rebound and lay-up by Eric Moreland. OSU assumed the lead for good with 31 seconds to go on a basket by junior Jared Cunningham.
"We didn't give up at the end," said Cunningham, who finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. "We kept fighting and we grinded it out.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar expressed the disappointment of his team, bounced out of the tournament early and now on the NCAA bubble.
"We weren't able to finish, give them a lot of credit," Romar said. "We had opportunities in the beginning to jump on them and we didn't do it, so they took advantage of our lackluster play early on."
Washington got a career-best 29 points from freshman guard Tony Wroten, but Wroten missed four free throws, two each with 18 seconds and nine seconds on the clock that helped to allow Oregon State to seal the win.
The Huskies' chances late were also marred by miscues. Terrence Ross missed the rim while intending to miss a free-throw, looking for the offensive rebound, and the ball turned over to Oregon State. And a Huskies player under the basket knocked a Cunningham free-throw miss out of bounds with .9 seconds to go, returning possession to Oregon State.
Washington rallied with a big run in the second half, buckling down with a zone defense and hitting big shots. The Huskies went on a 22-6 run to tie the game and eventually pulled off a 23-point swing to assume the 66-58 lead.
"Our inability to make free throws broke up our momentum and gave them a little bit of hope, I thought," Romar said.
Both teams had their share of missed opportunities. Washington was 12 of 26 from the free-throw line, while Oregon State was 17 for 32.
Washington sits at 21-10 and will wait to see if they might be included in the NCAA field or another postseason tournament.
"I would think the Pac-12 champion would be able to find a place in the NCAA Tournament, but we did not help ourselves today," Romar said. "We are at the mercy of their decision. "
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