SAN JOSE, Calif. - When Quincy Pondexter grabbed an offensive rebound with 34 seconds left in a tie game, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar twice considered calling a timeout to set up a final play.
Romar decided to let his senior leader do it by himself — and Pondexter wasn’t about to miss a chance to add another game to his season.
Pondexter drove for a short bank shot with 1.7 seconds left, and 11th-seeded Washington extended its late-season rally right into the NCAA tournament with an 80-78 victory over Marquette in the first round of the East Regional on Thursday night.
Pondexter scored 18 points in his school-record 134th game, and Isaiah Thomas had 19 as the Huskies (25-9) won their eighth straight in dramatic fashion, roaring back from a 15-point deficit with 13½ minutes left. Yet it still came down to the game-saving grace of Pondexter, a California native eager to expand his place in Huskies history.
Washington made two late defensive stops before Pondexter drove by Jimmy Butler from the perimeter and scored the winner with apparent ease.
“The fear of it being my last collegiate game ever is what propelled me to play well in the second half,” said Pondexter, who had 14 points after halftime. “I had to step up. ... It’s one of those storybook shots. I’m just so happy right now, I don’t even know what to say.”
Lazar Hayward missed a half-court heave at the buzzer for the sixth-seeded Golden Eagles (23-11), who didn’t manage a field goal in the final 4:33. After playing most of the game at the Huskies’ favored up-tempo pace, Marquette’s unlikely late-season surge ended with an offensive stall.
“Coach was drawing up a play, and I told him I wanted the ball,” Hayward said. “It felt good coming off my hand. It was just a little long. I felt like we could have some of the March Madness luck, but we didn’t.”
Washington will face third-seeded New Mexico on Saturday at the Shark Tank, which was filled with Huskies fans. The Huskies led for less than a minute of the entire second half before Pondexter’s final bucket.
“I totally felt comfortable with him with the basketball, thinking he would make the right decision,” Romar said. “To finish that way, and to beat a team that has done so well in those types of games, it speaks volumes about our team, but also where our team is now, as opposed to 6-7 weeks ago.”
Elston Turner had another strong second half for the Huskies, scoring 11 of his 14 points while they rallied. Pondexter also had 11 rebounds while breaking Justin Dentmon’s Huskies record for appearances.
Pondexter’s passion was evident in his five offensive rebounds, including three in the final minutes. He even got a rare technical foul for exchanging words and pushes with David Cubillan with 6:43 left.
Hayward scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime, but lost his duel with fellow senior forward Pondexter — his dorm mate on a World University Games team in Serbia last summer. Hayward crumpled at midcourt after his final miss, but his teammates gathered around and raised him up for final handshakes.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
CBT: Turning the page on the Mike Rice scandal, Rutgers hired Louisville's Julie Hermann as athletic director on Wednesday. But, Hermann has a prior scandal of her own.
Latest from CollegeBasketballTalk
Zay Jackson set to return to Murray State1 hr 57 min ago
Parade Girls’ Basketball POY streak hits three for UConn13 hr 9 min ago
Change of plans for former Marshall guard DeAndre Kane?14 hr 27 min ago
College basketball videos
Griner comfortable with coming out
DPS: Richard Deitsch from Sports Illustrated joins the show to discuss Brittney Griner coming out and explains why it wasn't seen as a big deal.
Three cheers for college hoops
Take a look at cheerleaders in action from around the country.