EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — David Crisp knew Washington had the right man at the line with the score tied and mere seconds on the clock.
Still, the senior guard chose his words carefully to describe Husky sophomore Jaylen Nowell’s heroics.
Nowell scored 20 points, capped by three free throws with 1.6 seconds left, and Washington weathered a furious Oregon rally to escape 61-56 on Thursday night.
“First off, this is a bad — I wish I could say it — this is a bad boy,” Crisp said with Nowell standing next to him. “He’s one of the clutchest players I’ve played with and one of the clutchest I’ve seen.”
Nowell was fouled on a desperation 3-point try after Payton Pritchard lost the ball as the Ducks were trying to set up for a final shot with the score at 56. Pritchard then hit Nowell on the arm as he rose to shoot on the run from about 30 feet.
“Matisse Thybulle locked Payton up, and he couldn’t get around him and lost the ball,” Nowell said. “When I saw the ball rolling on the ground, I just took it and made sure I got a shot up, but when (Pritchard) jumped past me, he grabbed the arm.
“Luckily, the ref called it at that point in time, and I was able to hit the three free throws. . I wanted to beat these guys at home and that’s what we came in to do.”
“(With) him at the line, it was a no-brainer,” Crisp noted. “It was ballgame.”
Oregon’s last possession ended with Paul White throwing it the length of the court out of bounds. Thybulle, who had seven assists and three steals, hit two more free throws for the final points.
Crisp added 18 points and Noah Dickerson 11 for the Huskies (15-4, 6-0 Pac-12), who won their eighth consecutive game. It’s also Washington’s best start in conference play in 35 years.
Louis King had 19 points to lead the Ducks (11-8, 2-4), and Miles Norris added 10 off the bench. Oregon lost a fourth home game in Matthew Knight Arena for the first time since it opened in 2011.
Washington survived despite committing 12 of its 19 turnovers in the second half against Oregon’s relentless full-court pressure.
The Huskies led 51-42 before Pritchard led the Ducks on a 14-0 run over 6 minutes to go up 56-51, but Oregon never scored again.
The Ducks called timeout with 20 seconds left intending to play for one shot by either Pritchard or King, coach Dana Altman said, even if a miss led to overtime. Instead, Pritchard lost his footing and the ball trying to elude Thybulle, and Nowell made Oregon pay for the turnover.
“The spin was what got (Pritchard) into trouble,” Altman said.
Nowell’s three free throws gave him 20 or more points for the fourth time in his last six games.
“Real tough call to end the game,” Altman said. “It was a gut-wrencher and one we’ll just have to fight through. A tough play for Payton . It’s a tough moment for everybody.”
Washington led by as many as 12 in the first half and was up 27-19 at the break largely because of Sam Timmins’ seven consecutive points off the bench. It was the third fewest points in a first half by Oregon this season, and the others resulted in losses at Houston and Baylor.
Washington will go for its second road sweep of the season and its sixth in the past 10 years when it takes on Oregon State. The Huskies have yet to give up more than 70 points in a conference game.
Oregon, the preseason Pac-12 favorite before losing star freshman Bol Bol, desperately needs a split against Washington State after opening with five of its first seven conference games at home.
LONG TIME COMING
Washington last won its first six conference games in the Pac-10 days of 1983-84. “I did not know that,” Crisp said, “but I’m going to have the same mindset. Never get too high, never get too low. We know we’ve got a lot more work to do, so we’re going to keep on pushing, stay level-headed.” A 7-0 start would match the 1952-53 Huskies, who began Pacific Coast Conference play 14-0 on their way to the Final Four.
Washington: At Oregon State on Saturday
Oregon: Hosts Washington State on Sunday night.