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Magic March Madness: A look back at Ross, Huskies winning Pac-10 Championship at the buzzer

Isaiah Thomas hit the game-winner, but not without late heroics from freshmen Terrence Ross

Washington v Arizona Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

I think I share the same sentiments that all basketball fans around the world are feeling right now (really, all sports fans in general): this is the worst.

Not having NBA games to watch as teams position themselves for the playoffs, missing out on college basketball conference tournaments, and (by far the most disappointing) losing the chance to watch March Madness unfold in both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournaments - it’s all just so deflating.

I do believe the NBA, the NCAA, and all other competitive organizations/affiliates absolutely made the correct call effectively putting sports on hold as COVID-19 continues to affect people all over the world. The health and well-being of our professional athletes, collegiate athletes, their families, and just fans in general, is of far greater importance at this time than any sporting event.

That doesn’t mean we can’t still really miss basketball, especially in a month like March. Because we all probably have countless fond memories of moments made during both the college basketball conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament, I thought that it might be a good time (without any other kind of basketball going on) to bring the best of those two worlds together for Magic fans:

a) Current Magic players &
b) their most memorable March moments playing at the collegiate-level

For some avid college basketball fans, these moments may still be familiar in your sports recall. For some younger Magic fans, or possibly fans that just don’t follow college basketball as closely as the NBA, this could be content you’re experiencing for the first time (which could be pretty rad).

I hope you enjoy our “Magic March Madness” re-watch series!

Who: Terrence Ross, freshman wing at the University of Washington
What: Pac-10 Tournament Championship Game against the University of Arizona
When: March 12th, 2011
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Stats: 16 points (7-13 FGA’s, 2-5 3PTA’s), 4 rebounds

Ross was born and raised in Portland, OR. He attended Jefferson High School in Oregon over his first two seasons playing high school basketball, leading the school to their first of three consecutive state championships during his sophomore year. Ross transferred to Montrose Christian School (Maryland) his junior season, and then returned to Oregon midway through his senior year.

Ross was considered by most major recruiting services (ESPN, Rivals, Scout) to be a four-star recruit. He committed to Lorenzo Romar and the Washington Huskies.

Ross joined a couple NBA-bound upperclassmen (Isaiah Thomas and Justin Holiday) in Washington’s back-court rotation, playing 17.4 minutes per game as a freshmen (four starts, 35 games played). Serving in his familiar sixth-man role, Ross scored in double-figures eight times coming off Washington’s bench in 2010-2011, before ultimately being moved into the Huskies starting lineup for Pac-10 Tournament play.

Down by double-digits, the Huskies had to mount a second half comeback against their in-state rivals to narrowly advance in their first game of the tournament. Washington State was led by Klay Thompson, who scored 43 points in the game, and went on to be drafted by the Golden State Warriors a few months later.

After topping the Oregon Ducks in their semi-final contest, Washington was set to play the top-seed in the Pac-10 Tournament, the Arizona Wildcats. Led by All-American forward Derrick Williams, Arizona had split their two two regular season games with the Huskies (both teams won on their home floors).

I thought this exercise would work out best if I just transcribed my thoughts/reactions of the game using an informal list. Video time-stamps are included with my comments.

  • (6:23) Terrence Ross knocks down his first bucket in transition off an Arizona made basket. Washington immediately gets the ball back in play, and Isaiah Thomas then pushes the ball ahead to Ross on the right-wing after one dribble in the back-court.
  • (29:42) Even as a teenager, the freshman Ross had more to his game than just catch-and-shoot ability. Here, Ross gets the ball from Thomas on the left-wing, takes a couple dribbles to his right, and then hits the turn-around jumper from the left-elbow. No surprise, Ross was a tough shot-maker even back then.
  • (43:29) Ross buries his first three-point field goal of the game from the right-corner, dumping the basketball inside to a teammate, only to get the ball right back after his defender left him to help the post-defender.
  • (44:09) On Washington’s next offensive possession, Ross knocks-down another jumper - this one coming from a cut off a baseline out-of-bounds play.
  • (51:55) Ross really did a nice job setting his defender up. It’s a bit unusual where this play started from (considering where the ball was coming from); the future Orlando sixth-man had his man on the right-block (with three teammates stacked on the other side of the floor), he then flashed to the elbow, but ultimately cut back-door to the rim for a pinpoint lob from Thomas (from the top of the key). The former NBA Slam-Dunk champion knew what to do with the ball when he got it above the rim.
  • This second half of play may have been the longest second half in college basketball history. But Gus Johnson is on the call, so...yeah, I don’t mind. He’s fantastic in every way.
  • (1:33:45) Ross’ biggest shot of the game came from the right corner with 20.8 seconds remaining in the contest. Washington would go on to win the game in overtime, but they absolutely fail to even get to that extra period without the clutch three-point field goal from their freshman wing.
  • (1:50:10) All right, fine. This play doesn’t involve Ross, but it’s pretty damn awesome (actually, this whole Isaiah Thomas film was absolutely incredible). Gus Johnson on the call, “shot clock turned off, game clock at eight (seconds).” Game winner, IT!

Washington was awarded a seventh-seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament following their Pac-10 Tournament championship. Following a close win in their opening game against the Georgia Bulldogs, Washington’s 2010-11 campaign came to a close after dropping a one-possession contest to the University of North Carolina (86-83).

Ross would play one more season in the Pac-10 before declaring for the NBA Draft following the completion of his sophomore season. The Huskies didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament in ‘12 (although they did make a nice run in the NIT Tournament).

But for one night in the Pac-10 Tournament against the heavily-favored Arizona Wildcats, Terrence Ross was “Magic” in March.

You can follow Aaron Goldstone on Twitter at @AaronGoldstone. Video credit used in this article comes courtesy of The Husky Archive (YouTube)