One and Done: Huskies Eliminated; Stewart Likely Bows Out At His Best
Isaiah Stewart played like it was his last basketball game, leaving nothing out on the floor.
Unless the NIT intercedes, likely it was -- at the college level.
On Wednesday afternoon at the Pac-12 tournament, the energetic Stewart dropped in baseline jumpers, drove to the hoop, followed up shots and even downed a 3-pointer. Yet alone, he couldn't prevent Washington's 77-70 loss to Arizona and its first-round elimination at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Stewart scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. He connected on 9 of 11 shots from the floor, and 10 from 11 at the foul line. But, unlike the previous two games played in Arizona, he got no help whatsoever from his teammates.
So the sensational 6-foot-9 freshman from Rochester, New York, likely bids farewell to the amateur game, fully expected to enter the NBA draft.
Stewart turned in a sterling 32 games for the UW that's left him as the team's leading scorer, a first-team All-Pac-12 performer and the only consistent player in an otherwise miserable 15-17 season.
"I hope it hurts," Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said of the sub-.500 showing. "We have a lot of guys who know what they have to do so this doesn't happen again."
Fifth-seeded Arizona, led by Josh Green's 19 points, advances to play No. 4 USC (22-9) on Thursday afternoon.
From the opening tipoff, Stewart came ready to play in this postseason outing held before an extra sparse crowd because of the pandemic scare. He scored the Huskies' first seven points, 12 of their first 16 and 18 of their first 26 points.
The 12th-seeded UW led just once in the game, at 24-23, when Stewart took a low feed from point guard Marcus Tsohonis and laid the ball in.
But the Huskies, no surprise here, couldn't shoot from behind the three-point line. They were as bad as they've been all season. Clank, clank, clank.
In the first half, they connected on just 1 of 11 attempts -- and it was Stewart who made the trey, early in the game. The UW finished a miserable 3 for 23 behind the line.
"They didn't have a good shooting night, but they kept fighting," Hopkins said.
Fellow freshman Jaden McDaniels, so sensational at Arizona State and Arizona, likely bowed out for the NBA with a forgettable performance. He got in foul trouble in the first half and didn't score a field goal until the second half.
McDaniels finally fouled out with 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting with 1:12 left in the game.
Down just 35-30 at intermission, the Huskies were outscored 6-0 to begin the next half and the game quickly got out of hand. Arizona (21-11) led by as much as 15 and the margin didn't get close again until the final minute.
The UW players no longer went to Stewart, who drew his fourth foul with 11:06 left to play. UW coach Mike Hopkins let the big man play another minute before sitting him down.
Stewart returned with 6:10 left to play and the Huskies behind 63-51. He stayed on the floor to the final buzzer, then walked away slowly, having done his job.