SEATTLE — After going through its own series of close, late-game losses, Arizona finally found the formula to to avoid another late defeat and pick up its first road win of the season.
In the process, the Wildcats added to Washington’s own miserable stretch of crushing setbacks.
“You get in these games, eventually you’re going to be able to punch one out,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “I really give our team a lot of credit for playing all the way to the end.”
Jemarl Baker Jr. made his fourth 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining to give Arizona the lead, and the Wildcats held off Washington for a 75-72 win on Thursday night.
Arizona closed the game on a 11-3 run, holding the Huskies to just one field goal over the final 6 ½ minutes. Baker had nine of the 11 points during the run and finished with a game-high 17 points off the bench for the Wildcats.
Baker had just 14 total points in the previous three games combined, and the 17 points were a season-high.
Nico Mannion added 16 points and Stone Gettings had 13 as the Wildcats (14-6, 4-3 Pac-12) rebounded from last Saturday’s second-half collapse against rival Arizona State.
The meltdown against the Sun Devils added to earlier close losses to Baylor, Gonzaga, St. John’s and Oregon. This time, the Wildcats made the needed plays in the closing moments.
“We’ve been in so many close games — ASU, Oregon — it’s been literally one play away. It was just really nice to be able to pull one out,” Gettings said.
Marysville Pilchuck alum RaeQuan Battle led Washington (12-10, 2-7) with 14 points off the bench and his 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining gave Washington a 72-70 lead. It was the Huskies only made basket during a forgettable closing stretch that added to the long list of late blown leads this season.
It was the sixth time in conference play the Huskies had a late lead and ended up on the losing side. Nahziah Carter, Battle and Marcus Tsohonis all missed shots in the final minute with a chance to tie or give the Huskies the lead.
Carter finished with 13 points for Washington, which lost its fourth straight. Hameir Wright and Jaden McDaniels both added 12.
“We’re making mistakes on both ends and we’re allowing it to kind of fester,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. “I kept telling the guys you’ve got to have a short-term memory in this thing leading up to this game, short-term memory, be loose, having fun, we’re going to make mistakes but have got to move on and learn from it.”
The anticipated matchup between freshman standouts Isaiah Stewart and Zeke Nnaji never materialized. Nnaji had early foul trouble and played just 26 minutes, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds.
Stewart struggled to one of his worst games of the season, finishing with nine points on 3-of-13 shooting. He grabbed 11 rebounds.
Washington trailed by as many as 10 in the first half, but opened the second half on an 14-3 run. The Huskies took a 57-48 lead on McDaniels’ baseline dunk, but he was called for a technical foul after the play, his fifth of the season.
Arizona scored the next seven points after the technical and outscored Washington 27-15 the rest of the way.
“I think it was definitely a big turning point,” Gettings said. “At that point we were just like we knew this was a must-win game for us at the end of the day. We weren’t going to go down without a fight.”
Washington took a 68-64 lead on a 3-pointer from Tsohonis with 6:34 remaining. The Huskies missed seven of their final eight shots and committed four turnovers the rest of the way.