Follow the Leader? Huskies Eke Out Win on Tsohonis Buzzer-Beater

The opportunistic guard steps in for an ill Quade Green and scores a career-high 29.
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Quade Green went one-on-one with Isaac Bonton in Pullman.

They compared heavy coats.

Seats on the bench. 

How their teams might play without them.

Green won this battle.

He came out ahead as a spectator because his able replacement, Marcus Tsohonis, decided things for everyone.

With the top scorers unusually sidelined for each team, the Washington Huskies did a better job of adjusting, with Tsohonis dropping in a one-hander in the key with 2.4 seconds left to beat the Washington State 65-63 on snowy Monday night in Pullman.

At tipoff, the teams revealed that Green suffered from an illness (not COVID-19) and Bonton was nursing a sprained ankle.

The production loss was significant: Green's 15.3 points per game to Bonton's 18.4 for WSU.

However, the UW (4-16 overall, 3-12 Pac-12) had two things going for it against the Cougars (10-10, 5-10).

Marcus Tsohonis and memory loss.

Drawing just his second start of the season, the Huskies' 6-foot-3 sophomore guard and provider of instant offense, regardless of his role, poured in a career-high and team season-high 29 points, for his fifth time over 20 this season.

Hitting 13 of 20 shots, Tsohonis took the ball into the key at the end and launched one of his patented shots before the buzzer to snap a five-game losing streak and pull out a victory that was never salted away.

"I was going to make the right basketball play," Tsohonis said. "We had them on their heels. I knew I had to make a play. I had to get a shot."

This marked the first game in 13 months in which the UW went an entire game without Green.

Last year, it didn't go well.

Green became academically ineligible and the Huskies nosedived from an 11-4 team to a Pac-12 last-place finisher at 15-17.

Tsohonis, who started his only other game this season against Stanford in January, helped these guys forget all about that mess and concentrate on the current one. Even with the win, this is still an 11th-place team. 

At least, the Huskies might finally give the keys to this car to the guy with the interesting hair and more interesting shots. 

"The thing I was most proud was he's got a knack to score, but he ran the team tonight," UW coach Mike Hopkins said. "I was really, really pleased with his poise when he had the ball."

The Huskies built an early 12-4 lead before WSU settled down and rallied for its only lead of the first half, 21-20, on a Noah Williams floater in the key.

As these teams were battling for the second time in eight days, Green and Bonton sat in opposite end zones. Bonton wore the thicker parka. 

With the teams tied at 23 and 4:28 left in the first half, Tsohonis took off on an impressive scoring tear.

He broke the deadlock by cutting for a lay-in off an Erik Stevenson feed, sending the Huskies on a 14-0 run. Stevenson worked well with the emergency point guard, turning in an 18-point, 7-rebound and 7-assist performance. 

Tsohonis dropped in a baseline jumper, another lay-in and a jumper over the Cougars' D.J. Rodman to push the UW out to a 36-23 lead before settling for a 36-26 edge at intermission.

Yet in the closing seconds before half, the Huskies and Green watched nervously as Tsohonis collided with someone, went down in pain and got up limping. 

This team is so thin, it couldn't stand to lose Tsohonis on top of Green. Luckily for the UW, the Portland product was ready to go for the second-half tip.

Bonton and Green still sat in the opposite end zones, all masked up.

"I knew he wasn't going to play last night," Hopkins said as he watched Green turn lethargic and deal with a temperature. "Probably the most important thing was to know he didn't have COVID."

Tsohonis made Green feel much better. 

He got a couple of quick second-half buckets and the Huskies grabbed their largest lead at 42-28. 

The Cougars still wouldn't go away.

WSU went on a 17-1 burst to take a 45-43 lead. 

At the end, somebody badly needed a leader.

Tsohonis took the initiative.

There was no one else raising his hand.

Tsohonis' driving shot with 5:31 left gave the Huskies the lead again at 53-51.

It was hang-on time to the buzzer. 

The Cougars' Noah Williams' driving lay-in tied the now up-for-grabs contest at 63 with 10 seconds left.

The UW didn't have a timeout. 

It was time for the Huskies to follow their new leader: Tsohonis.

He pushed the ball up the floor and looked for an opening.

The play developed a little slower than Hopkins wanted. 

The coach thought a 3-pointer was coming.

"He was having an amazing game," Hopkins said. "I wanted him to have that shot."

Tsohonis maneuvered himself into the key and delivered.

From maybe 10 feet away, he feathered in one of his trademark floaters. 

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

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