SEATTLE -- Arizona needed 30 minutes of Thursday night's game at Washington to start taking care of the ball. Fortunately for the eighth-ranked Wildcats, it took longer than that for Washington to remember how to shoot from the outside.
Arizona (18-2, 6-2) overcame a slow start and 17 turnovers to snap a five-game losing streak at Washington, beating the Huskies 57-53 on Thursday night.
Washington (12-9, 4-4) jumped out to an early lead but never really got into a rhythm from the outside, going almost 35 1/2 minutes before hitting a 3-point shot. The Huskies, who were leading the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting heading into the game, went 1 of 12 from behind the arc.
Washington's final miss came on a rare three-point attempt from 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye, who misfired badly from the corner with eight seconds left and the Huskies trailing by four points. But the more crucial mistake came 20 seconds earlier when Washington senior point guard Abdul Gaddy threw away an alley-oop pass to teammate C.J. Wilcox with the Huskies trailing by two points.
"It was a bad pass," Gaddy said of the errant attempt that was too high for Wilcox, resulting in Washington's 17th and final turnover of the game. "If I'd have made a better pass, he'd have had a layup."
It was Arizona that struggled with turnovers for most of the night. The Wildcats had 12 in the first half alone but got it together and went without a turnover in the final nine minutes of the game.
"We knew that, by turning the ball over, we were missing out on a lot of shots we could have been taking," Arizona's Nick Johnson said.
Johnson scored five of his game-high 15 points in the final 2:04, giving the Wildcats a 51-50 lead with a running one-hander before making it hold up with three of four free throws down the stretch.
Johnson made an even bigger impact on defense, with four steals and solid defense against Wilcox, the Huskies' leading scorer.
Wilcox, who came into the game averaging 19 points per game, scored 11 while making just 4 of 16 shots from the field. He made the Huskies' only 3-pointer of the night on a shot from the wing with 4:31 remaining, giving Washington a 48-46 lead.
"That's their back-breaker," Johnson said of Washington's ability to hit 3-pointers. "That's what they do to get over the hump."
It was Arizona that spent much of the first half trying to climb from unexpected depths. A slow start left the Wildcats trailing 16-5 almost nine minutes into the game. At the 10-minute mark of the first half, Arizona had as many turnovers -- eight -- as it did points.
But a driving scoop shot by Johnson with 4:35 remaining in the half capped an 8-2 Arizona spurt to give the Wildcats their first lead since the opening minute at 21-20.
Washington rallied to lead 28-23 at halftime.
"That was as bad of an offensive first half as we've had all season," said Arizona coach Sean Miller, who had never won at Washington and was riding a four-game losing streak to the Huskies overall. " ... Sometimes on the road, if you can find a way and play good defense, it means the world."
Washington suffered its fourth consecutive loss, marking the first time in almost five years that the Huskies have had a losing streak that long.
"We've got a lot of basketball left," said Gaddy, who had 10 points, six assists and six turnovers. " ... The season can turn around quickly. (Washington coach Lorenzo) Romar tells us all the time: he's been through this before. He knows how to rally us up."
Wilcox and Scott Suggs led Washington in scoring with 11 points each. But they combined to go 7 of 25 from the field and 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the loss.
NOTES: Washington sophomore Shawn Kemp Jr. made the first start of his career. Kemp, who was coming off a career-high 12 points against Oregon, scored six points during the Huskies' 10-3 spurt to open Thursday's game. ... Arizona turned the ball over three times on its first five possessions. ... Heading into Thursday's game, Washington had won its past four home games against ranked opponents. ... One of Arizona coach Sean Miller's closest friends in the profession is Kevin McGuff, the head women's basketball coach at Washington. Miller and McGuff were part of the athletic department at Xavier University five years ago.