Pac-12: Top-seeded Huskies fall
Oregon St. broke through, stunning 2-time defending tourney champ Washington
Newcomer Colorado completed a season sweep of third-seeded Oregon
Meeting for the second time in five days, Cal avenged an earlier loss to Stanford
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After four years spent patiently rebuilding Oregon State's program from its foundations, coach Craig Robinson is two wins away from forcing President Barack Obama to predict his brother-in-law's fortunes in his NCAA tournament bracket.
Robinson's Beavers finally made their breakthrough Thursday, surviving missed free throws, blown leads and a spine-chilling finish to outlast top-seeded Washington in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals.
Jared Cunningham hit a go-ahead layup with 31.8 seconds left, and ninth-seeded Oregon State blew a 15-point lead in the second half before rallying for an 86-84 victory over the two-time defending tournament champion Huskies.
"We have a very emotional team for a lot of reasons," Robinson said after fighting to contain the Beavers' locker-room glee with another tournament game looming in 24 hours. "But I know that I could not be more proud of a team, and have not been prouder of a team, than I am of this team. We have fought hard and lost our share of games by five points and under, and it's not due to these guys' lack of hard work."
Indeed, the Beavers needed hard work to win two conference tournament games for the first time in school history, but they also needed a little luck.
Cunningham scored 18 points and hit two free throws with 6.2 seconds to play despite missing five additional free throws in the final 31.8 seconds. Devon Collier had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Beavers (19-13), who outlasted the league regular-season champion Huskies only because Tony Wroten, Washington's freshman star, couldn't hit four late free throws of his own.
"That stretch at the end was nail-biting," said Cunningham, the Pac-12 scoring leader entering the tournament. "We've been together from the start. We're a close-knit group, and we just love each other and want each other to do well."
Oregon State's 48-33 lead in the second half turned into an eight-point deficit in less than 11 minutes. Washington then blew a six-point lead in the final 2 1/2 minutes despite Cunningham's misses at the free-throw line.
Cunningham missed his final two tries with 2.3 seconds left, but the rebound went out of bounds off a Washington player. Oregon State ran out the clock on an upset that should get the attention of the commander in chief.
"It was a rocky time," said Oregon State forward Joe Burton, who scored 14 points and hit a key layup with 1:47 left. "Even at half, Coach said they were going to make a run."
Wroten had a career-high 29 points in the highest-scoring performance by a Washington freshman, but the Pac-12's top rookie clanked two free throws with 18.3 seconds left and two more with 8.7 seconds to play.
Wroten didn't want to talk about it afterward in the Huskies' somber locker room, politely ignoring questions while scrolling through messages on his phone.
"Tony is feeling really down right now, but he's a great player and he has a short memory," said C.J. Wilcox, who scored 16 points. "He played excellent for his first tournament."
Terrence Ross scored 15 points for the Huskies (21-10), who might be consigned to the NIT after this upset loss as the top team in a league widely perceived as weak. Washington had won 16 of 20 to claim the Pac-12 title, but the Huskies realize they could be in trouble on Selection Sunday.
"We certainly didn't help ourselves today, but I would think we could find ourselves in (the NCAA tournament)," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Washington made a 22-3 run after falling behind 48-33 in the opening minute of the second half, but Oregon State finished on a 13-5 run. The Huskies could blame the loss squarely on free-throw shooting after going just 9 for 21 in the second half.
"We talked about how important the little things are," Romar said. "If we have an opportunity to play again, that's something we've got to make sure we focus on."
Cunningham managed just four points in the Beavers' tournament-opening win over Washington State on Wednesday, and he missed his first three shots against the Huskies, including an easy alley-oop layup on a fast break. The Oakland product eventually got going as the Beavers outworked the cold-shooting Huskies throughout the first half.
Ahmad Starks finished with four 3-pointers and 14 points for Oregon State, which made a 21-7 run late in the first half. Burton's tip-in with 5.5 seconds left sent the Beavers into halftime with a 13-point lead, earning a standing ovation from their small but boisterous group of fans including former NBA stars Gary Payton and A.C. Green.
Washington got rolling with a boost from Abdul Gaddy, who scored eight of his 13 points in a three-minute span while the Huskies took charge. Starks hit his fourth 3-pointer with 59 seconds left to trim Washington's lead to 83-82, and Cunningham put Oregon State ahead moments later.
Colorado blew all of an eight-point lead, fell behind by three with 1:36 to go and then pulled out a thrilling victory.
Andre Roberson made the go-ahead layup with 10 seconds remaining, lifting the Pac-12 newcomers.
"That's what March basketball is all about," Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle said. "Our guys bucked up when they had to."
Devoe Joseph, an All-Pac-12 first team selection, missed the potential winning 3-pointer from the left sideline at the buzzer for the Ducks.
"The whole play came down on me, and I took a bad shot," he said, after burying his head in his locker. "I should have been more aggressive and driven to the basket."
Carlon Brown scored 18 points and Roberson added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Buffs (21-11), who advanced to Friday's semifinals against No. 2 seed California, a 77-71 winner over seventh-seeded Stanford earlier at Staples Center.
The Buffs controlled the paint despite getting outrebounded 43-29 and completed a season sweep of the third-seeded Ducks, who lost 72-71 in the teams' lone regular-season meeting. Colorado notched its second straight 20-win season with a victory over Utah, the league's other new team, on Wednesday.
Tony Woods led the Ducks (22-9) with a career-high 14 points. Joseph added 12 while missing all seven of his 3-point attempts, and Carlos Emory had 11 points.
"It came down to the end of the game, and we did not execute," Woods said.
The Ducks had been so reliable on the road, with more than half their wins coming away from home under first-year coach Dana Altman, but they couldn't hang on after a 10-0 run gave them a 60-58 lead with 2:44 to play.
E.J. Singler had four straight points, and Emory hit the go-ahead layup in the spurt that gave the Ducks their first lead of the second half, 60-58.
Brown made one of two free throws to draw the Buffs within one before Joseph hit the Ducks' final basket to keep them ahead, 62-59, with 1:35 left.
Brown made a layup. Then, Spencer Dinwiddie's shot was blocked by Woods. Roberson grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back up for the game-winner.
"We were just trying to attack," Roberson said. "We didn't want to take a jump shot late in the game. When I saw Spencer go, I just crashed the board like I normally do and it just fell into my hand."
Singler was supposed to set a pick on the final play.
"Devoe was supposed to get a quick look, and E.J. was supposed to set a screen," Altman said, "but E.J. slid to the basket, didn't set the pick and we didn't get the shot we wanted."
Jorge Gutierrez scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half, Harper Kamp added 17 points, and California avenged last weekend's loss to Stanford.
Justin Cobbs scored 15 points while playing strong defense on Stanford freshman sensation Chasson Randle for the second-seeded Golden Bears (24-8) in the schools' second meeting in five days. Stanford beat Cal 75-70 at Maples Pavilion, preventing the Bears from winning a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title.
Thanks to that loss, Cal must win the tournament to breathe easily about its NCAA fate - and the Bears are the highest seed remaining at Staples Center after top-seeded Washington's stunning loss to ninth-seeded Oregon State six hours earlier.
Andrew Zimmermann had a career-high 22 points and seven rebounds for the seventh-seeded Cardinal (21-11), who couldn't respond to Cal's second-half rally in the rivals' rubber match after each school won on its home floor during the regular season.
Gutierrez, the Pac-12's player of the year and its top defensive player, led Cal's impressive comeback from a seven-point halftime deficit. The senior made 6 of 8 shots and finished seven assists and six rebounds for the Bears, who made a 15-3 run to open the second half.
Randle scored 19 points for the Cardinal, but went 5 for 16 -- just 2 of 9 on 3-pointers. The freshman dropped 27 of his 30 points on Arizona State in the first half of the Cardinal's opening-round victory.
Cal didn't appear to try anything fancy against Randle, who scored 17 points against the Bears at Maples Pavilion last weekend. Cobbs' man-to-man coverage largely limited Randle's looks and harassed him into ineffectiveness.
Stanford took a 30-23 lead into halftime despite just five points from Randle. Cal, which committed 14 turnovers before halftime and just three afterward, went up 38-33 on Allen Crabbe's 3-pointer 4 minutes into the second half.
Cal maintained a narrow lead until Zimmermann's putback layup tied it at 60 with 6:06 to play. The Bears answered moments later with an 8-0 run capped by Cobbs' four straight free throws.
Cal led 73-64 on Gutierrez's three-point play with 2:31 left, but Randle finally awoke with five quick points. David Kravish drew a key foul and hit two free throws with 40.7 seconds left, and the Bears hung on after stumbling into the league tournament following its first consecutive losses of the season.
Cal had won five of its previous six meetings with Stanford before the Cardinal's surprising victory last weekend. Gutierrez even said he didn't believe the matchup was a true rivalry, given the Bears' domination since Mike Montgomery, the longtime Stanford coach, moved across the bay to Berkeley.
The teams' mutual dislike surfaced repeatedly in the final minutes, with several players posturing and treading on the edge of technical fouls.
Arizona and UCLA weren't their usual high-scoring selves, with neither getting the kind of easy baskets that come when the offense is flowing.
Instead, it came down to defense and free throws - lots and lots of 'em by the Wildcats, who won 66-58 in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals Thursday despite going 8 1/2 minutes without a field goal in the second half.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats (22-10) were 24 of 27 from the free-throw line in the second half, and they needed those when their shooting dipped to 30 percent over the final 20 minutes and the Bruins briefly took the lead.
Solomon Hill scored 25 points, Jesse Perry added 16 points and Kyle Fogg scored 13. Arizona went 31 of 36 from the line, with Perry making 12 of 13 and Hill 12 of 14. Hill and Perry had 12 rebounds each.
"As often is the case in March, you ride the coattails of the individual players playing better than they've played before," Wildcats coach Sean Miller said. "The only thing you have to do is look at the stat sheet and the meaning of Jesse, Solomon and Kyle is immense. These three guys are the heart and soul of our team."
Arizona, seeking its first tournament title since 2002, advanced to Friday's semifinals against ninth-seeded Oregon State, which upset top-seeded Washington 86-84 earlier at Staples Center.
"The objective in March is to just keep winning and don't stop," Miller said. "Hopefully tonight is the first of a couple more."
The fifth-seeded Bruins (19-14) were led by guards Lazeric Jones with 17 points and Jerime Anderson with 14.
"It hurts and I'm sad knowing that we're done," said Jones, a junior college transfer who played two seasons with the team. "It's not the way we wanted it to be."
UCLA played the final 11:03 without big man Joshua Smith, who fouled out in nine minutes after totaling seven points and three rebounds. Travis Wear, who had 10 points and six rebounds, fouled out for the first time this season with 2:52 remaining.
"I'm upset with myself," Smith said. "I realize my numbers aren't what they should be and not what they were last season. I'm definitely going to come back to UCLA. I know the work I have to put in during the offseason. There is no way I could leave on a note like that."
The loss snapped UCLA's three-game winning streak and all but guaranteed the Bruins will miss the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years.
Asked whether the team would accept a possible NIT bid - they haven't played in it since 1986 - coach Ben Howland said, "We would not snub our nose at the opportunity."
Fogg's 3-pointer to open the second half stretched Arizona's lead to nine points, and the Wildcats led by seven when the Bruins made their big push with 10 1/2 minutes left. Anderson led a 15-8 run with seven points, while Tyler Lamb's steal and layup gave UCLA its first lead, 46-45, since the game's opening minutes.
The teams traded baskets during a furious up-and-down sprint, capped by Anderson's 3-pointer that tied it at 51 with 6:16 to play.
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