Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
For the second straight game, Washington held off a comeback attempt in the final minutes and won what was at times an ugly game in gritty fashion.
It’s become cliche for the Huskies to say they need to grind out wins, but that’s exactly what they’re doing. The team that had been accused of being too finesse out fought Seattle University for a 91-83 win.
You might argue Washington has flexed its muscles against a pair of teams with a combined 7-22 record. Still, the Huskies are proving they can win with more than than a fast-paced offense that overwhelms opponents with three-pointers and dribble-drive layups.
Tonight Washington outrebounded Seattle U. 53-40 and had a 20-12 edge in offensive rebounds.
Washington led by as many as 14 points early in the second half and it might have cruised to an easy win if it had made a decent percent of its free throws. The Huskies shot 62.7 percent (37 of 59) at the line, which enabled SU to make a comeback.
Washington also had difficulty handling SU’s full court press, which is somewhat surprising considering its stable of guards. However, Tony Wroten Jr. had six turnovers, Abdul Gaddy three and C.J. Wilcox (above) three.
Despite the miscues, the Huskies made plays when needed.
When Seattle U. erased Washington’s 50-37 halftime lead and tied the score 76-76 with 4:53 remaining, Wilcox made two free throws.
After SU cut UW’s lead to 79-77 with 3:47 left, he answered with a three-pointer.
And when SU made its last push and narrowed its deficit to 85-81 with 1:12 left, Wroten drove to the basket, forced a foul and calmly converted two free throws.
The Redhawks pressed the Huskies relentlessly and UW didn’t back away. They made mistakes. They committed 16 turnovers. At times they were too aggressive and others not aggressive enough.
“We were just trying to beat it and score,” Gaddy said. “Really beat it and get it to one of our guards and give us two options. They couldn’t guard all of us. We were just trying to beat it as fast as we could and try to score off them just pressing the whole time.
“They were pushing up guys so we tried to put a guy in the middle. Stuff like that. The thing is the pass in the corner, we have to get it out as fast as possible. Once I pass it from out of bounds, I step up and be an outlet and flash in the middle. (First half) we did it well. (Second half) we didn’t do so good at it.”
Still, when challenged, the Huskies responded. The game got heated and chippy at times. Terrence Ross was knocked to the floor on a hard foul. Wroten rushed to his defense and was given a technical foul. Minutes later, Gaddy picked up a flagrant foul denying a fast break layup.
Coach Lorenzo Romar acknowledged Washington played with a physicality that hadn’t been seen many times this season.
“I don’t know if it was against their grain,” he said. “I’d like to think that we made progress tonight rather than we were being out of our comfort zone.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Wilcox has been suffering from tendinitis in his hip for weeks. He missed his first two shots and it seemed as if his 2-for-13 shooting slump in Utah had followed him to Seattle.
“I just tried to get it out of my system,” he said. “Being a shooter you know that all of them aren’t going to go in. So you jusut have to stay confident. Stay shooting and luckily they fell in tonight.”
Wilcox came off the bench and finished with a career-high 25 points, one better than his previous best. He made 6 of 15 from the field and nine of 11 free throws. The free throws and attempts shattered his personal best.
“We knew were were going to get to the line a lot,” he said. “Every time we play them, they end up fouling a couple of guys out so we knew the free throws would be up in the high numbers.”
— Wroten is also banged up. He fell hard in the second half and appeared to injure his tail bone. He also complained of soreness in his hip and elbow. Still, the freshman guard was overpowering on his way to 24 points, six assists and four rebounds. He converted a season high 12 free throws on 18 attempts.
— For the second straight year, Aziz N’Diaye put up good numbers against SU. Last time he had a career-high 15 points and 10 rebounds. Tonight he finished with 14 and 13. N’Diaye would have topped his personal scoring best had he been a little better at the line. He converted 4 of 9 free throws.
— Gaddy didn’t have his shot – he was 0 for 4 – but he made plays when it mattered. Washington needed his 7-for-10 shooting at the line, five rebounds and three assists.
— Ross had a terrific first half and scored 10 points. After the break, he attempted just one shot and finished with 12. Strange. In an up-tempo game in which Washington scored 91 points, you’d think he would thrive. Ross had his moments, especially on the defensive end when he blocked a shot from behind to spark a fast break. But he was paired against Aaron Broussard, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
— Desmond Simmons made his first career start and finished with seven rebounds. He also had two steals and five points on 2-for-6 shooting. It looks as if Simmons will remain in the starting lineup at least for awhile.
— Darnell Gant had five rebounds, three points, two assists and a steal in 16 minutes. He’s making the most of his limited minutes. Tonight he logged 16.
— Freshman Shawn Kemp Jr. had a block and was 1 for 3 at the line in six minutes.