Even though his team lost, Washington Coach Marv Harshman went out in style Thursday night.
In the final game of his 40-year career as a collegiate coach, the winningest active coach was defeated by a team representing the winningest college basketball program in history.
In the first meeting ever between the schools, Kentucky beat the Huskies, 66-58, in a first-round NCAA Western Regional game Thursday night at the Special Events Center.
Kentucky will face ninth-ranked Nevada Las Vegas Saturday afternoon. The Rebels defeated San Diego State, 85-80, earlier Thursday evening.
The Wildcats (17-12), who led, 27-24, at halftime, scored their last 18 points of the game at the foul line. Kentucky made 30 of 40 free throws, including 25 of 33 in the second half.
Thanks to a game-high 29 points by junior forward Kenny Walker, Kentucky won despite shooting just 38% from the field.
Washington (22-10), the co-champion in the Pac-10 with USC this season, shot 47% from the field but made just 6 of 16 free throws. Forwards Detlef Schrempf and Paul Fortier led the Huskies with 16 points apiece.
“I’ll just say that the officiating was better than we’ve had in some Pac-10 games this season,” Schrempf said.
But mainly, Harshman was the topic of conversation for the Washington players.
“It was an emotional locker room scene after the game, " Schrempf said.
Before the season started, the 67-year-old Harshman announced that this would be his last. Harshman coached for 14 years at Washington and finished with a career record of 642-448, seventh in all-time wins.
“I know I’m not going to coach anymore,” Harshman said, “but the thing that hit me right away was the players. It was pretty emotional in the locker room. I had to put something in my mouth to keep from crying.”
When asked what he will remember most and whether he considers himself to be a great coach, Harshman said:
“The best memory I probably have is beating (John) Wooden by 22 points in the last game he ever lost. To me, he was the best coach ever . . . I don’t know if I’m a great coach. I always claimed I was a great teacher of the game, but that was my ego talking. Really I can’t put myself in the category of guys like Wooden, Bobby Knight and Dean Smith who win 20 games and get in the tournament every year. I’m a survivor.”