By John Marshall Associated Press
LAS VEGAS — As Arsalan Kazemi sat on the bench in the second half after struggling, he waited for a second chance, plotting how he’d play better if it came.
When the chance did come, his plan played out perfectly.
Shaking off a shaky first half, Kazemi scored 11 of his 14 points in overtime, helping Oregon outlast Washington 80-77 on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
“While I was sitting on the bench in the second half, I was just hoping (Oregon coach Dana Altman) would give me a second chance,” Kazemi said. “I knew if he put me back in the game, I wasn’t going to slip. I just played as hard as I could. I didn’t look at the score whether we were down or up, I just played hard.”
The tournament’s third seed, Oregon (24-8) found itself in a fight from the start against the sixth-seeded Huskies. The Ducks stopped Washington from getting off a shot in the closing seconds of regulation and held on in overtime to reach Friday’s semifinals against No. 10 seed Utah, which knocked off No. 2 California in overtime earlier Thursday.
Damyean Dotson had 17 points and E.J. Singler added 16 for the Ducks.
A year ago, Washington (18-15) became the first team from a power conference to miss the NCAA tournament after winning the regular-season title, thanks to an opening loss to Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament. The Huskies could be out of the bracket after coming up short again in this year’s tourney.
C.J. Wilcox led Washington with 19 points, Scott Suggs added 18 and Abdul Gaddy had 14 with five rebounds and five assists.
“Our inability to make shots and take care of the ball was the difference in the game,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They did a good job of pressuring.”
Wilcox put Washington up 64-62 on a turnaround with 50 seconds left in regulation, and Oregon’s Johnathan Loyd hit two free throws to tie it. Washington had a final chance in regulation but fumbled the ball away without getting a shot.
In overtime, Kazemi scored six straight points, with his two-handed slam on the break putting the Ducks up 72-65. He then followed a basket by Suggs with a three-point play that made it an eight-point game.
Not bad for a player who had one point in the first half and spent a sizable chunk of the second on the bench.
“I just didn’t think he was very sharp,” Altman said. “But I thought he made big plays down the stretch.”
Oregon was the early front-runner in the Pac-12 race before a few slip-ups knocked them to the No. 3 seed.
The Ducks started the season 18-3 and won their first seven conference games before losing three straight. Oregon won five of the next six but closed with road losses to Colorado and Utah to drop out of the rankings.
It was a disappointing finish, but the Ducks’ season still was good enough to earn Altman coach-of-the-year honors in the Pac-12 and Oregon a likely spot in the NCAA tournament.
Washington played a wild opening game of the Pac-12 tournament, blowing a 19-point second-half lead — and a 15-point advantage with 8:35 left — before pulling out a 64-62 win over rival Washington State.
Oregon swept the season series, beating Washington by five at home and by 13 in Seattle.
Round 3 began as an offensive shootout. Washington went on an 11-0 run to go up 23-14 and hit 13 of 27 shots in the first half. Oregon answered with a 13-4 run to tie it and shot 14 of 28 before halftime.
Both made 4 of 6 from the 3-point line, with Oregon going into the break with a 39-34 lead.
The shooting fell off early in the second half, but both teams were struggling, so the game remained close.
Washington missed its chance at the end of regulation and couldn’t stop Kazemi in overtime, ending its tournament-title hopes.
“We hope it’s not the last game,” Suggs said. “We never thought it would end like this.”