Terrence Ross downplayed the severity of a hip flexor that limited his mobility and minutes towards the end of No. 1 Washington’s 82-72 win over No. 8 Texas-Arlington in the NIT opener. Here’s the game stats.
“I just fought through it,” he said.
When asked if he’d be available Friday when Washington hosts No. 4 Northwestern, Ross replied: “I’m good.”
Despite the nagging injury, Ross poured in 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including three three-pointers and an alley-oop dunk. He collected five rebounds, blocked two shots and drew an offensive charge in 28 minutes.
On Monday Ross said: “I think we all have the right perspective and we want to play these games. We have another game to play. As long as we’re playing, we’re going to give it our 110. I feel like we’re going to match their intensity if not be better. We’re going to come out and be ready to play.”
On Tuesday, the Huskies and Ross struggled at the start. Once he got going, he was sensational during a two-minute stretch in the first half when he scored all 11 points for the Huskies.
He missed his first two shots before the spurt and the score was tied 21-21.
Then Ross made a layup, a long jumper, a three-pointer, another long jumper and capped the run with an alley-oop dunk off of a pass from Abdul Gaddy. When it was over Washington led 32-24.
“I felt I had to go out there and play my type of game and do what I do best for this team,” Ross said. “It’s just something that they’re asking me to do.”
As good as Ross was, the Huskies didn’t subdue the Mavericks until midway in the second half. Washington trailed 59-58 with 9:56 left and used a 7-0 run to take control.
Not surprisingly, Ross capped the spurt with a three-pointer that gave UW a 65-59 lead.
Once they trailed, the Huskies finished the game with a 24-13 run. Unlike their last two games, Washington played solid defensively and made clutch plays offensively in the final minutes.
I felt the game was won during a critical stretch late in the game when UTA hit a three-pointer to cut UW’s lead to 68-65 with 7:14 left.
The Mavericks didn’t score on the next five possessions. They missed six shots and committed a turnover during the 4 1/2-minute span while Washington increased its lead to 77-65.
When UTA scored again it was at the 2:42 mark and for the outcome was just about decided.
Still UW didnt’ let off the gas. It forced five straight missed shots before the Mavs scored again with 15 seconds left and the Huskies led 79-69. At that point, the game was over.
“We knew that Texas-Arlington was going to be a scrappy team and we saw that live and up close as they got 13 offensive rebounds in the first half,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “That was the difference. The score was tied at half and they earned it by crashing the boards the way they did.
“They had 12 points off second chance baskets and we had zero. That and our inability to keep them out of the lane were the differences. We did a fine job offensively, we took care of the basketball, but in the second half we tightened the screws a little bit more. We were able to get stops. I thought the zone helped us. And overall we were able to get the victory.”
UTA coach Scott Cross said: “We need to try to limit the touches on Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox obviously, make everything difficult for them. For Wroten, we just wanted to pack it in a little on him, not let him — he’s so relentless getting to the basket — try and make everything difficult. Play N’Diaye straight up, not let him score over us, don’t dig off the shooters. Take care of the ball, we were just going to play fast in transition, and if we didn’t get anything, milk the clock and work the ball around the best we could.”
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— When Ross plays like he did tonight, the Huskies are difficult to beat. He’s a difficult cover because he can beat teams off the dribble and Washington can run him off of screens to get him open. After the game, Ross made a keen observation when he noted NIT opponents don’t know how to defend him as well as Pac-12 teams who have played against him 4-5 times.
On UT Arlinglington: “They scouted us, but they don’t really know how our team plays. Everybody in the Pac-12 they know how we play and what our go-to moves are, but against them it’s a lot easier to get your own buckets and kind of go after them. They didn’t know what to expect so it’s kind of easier to catch them off guard.”
— Wilcox had difficulty with the long ball – he was 1 for 5 on three-pointers – however he got to the line 10 times and made eight. Both totals are one shy of his career best. He tallied 15 points and collected four rebounds in 30 minutes. Wilcox also had several nice defensive plays. He bravely stepped in front of 240-pound Jordan Reves on a drive and took a charge early in the first half. Wilcox also got a big steal in the second half that led to a fast-break opportunity.
— If Darnell Gant had rebounded like this during his four-year career, he may have been an all-Pac-12 performer. Seriously. Something has transformed the senior forward. Maybe it’s the fact he knows time is running short on his UW career. Whatever the case, he’s been a monster on the glass lately. He had career-high 10 rebounds for the third straight game and he’s had at least nine in the past four contests. Gant also scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including two three-pointers in 30 minutes. He’s the type of player who plays better at home and clearly he had confidence in his shot tonight.
— Gaddy was also comfortable with his shot. He made 4 of 5 from the field and was 2 of 3 behind the arc for 12 points. When he’s making shots, it opens everything in the middle and makes life easier for Ross and Wilcox because opponents have to respect his scoring. Gaddy also did a nice job distributing the ball dished out six assists. It’s the eighth straight game he’s had at least four assists in a game. He also had just one turnover in a game-high 37 minutes.
— Tony Wroten Jr. took a season-low five shots, but he finished with a career-high tying eight assists. UT Arlington was daring Wroten to shoot and he missed a three-pointer. Otherwise he smartly took what the defense was giving. He penetrated, drew defenders and created scoring opportunities for teammates. Wroten had few highlight passes that led to layups for Desmond Simmons and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Wroten also had nine points and four turnovers in 32 minutes. Defensively, he was hit and miss. At times, Wroten failed to keep his man in front of him, which led to several defensive breakdowns. Other times, his quick hands led to turnovers. In the second half, Wroten picked Cameron Catlett in the open court which led to a dunk by Wilcox.
“I was just getting my teammates the ball,” Wroten said when asked about taking just five shots. “Doing whatever it takes to get the win.”
— N’Diaye makes a big difference for Washington on the defensive end because of his length. At 7 feet, he’s such an imposing figure and erases a lot of UW’s defensive mistakes. However, he was in foul trouble for most of the game and played just 18 minutes. When he was in the game, he made an impact. The Mavericks had no defense for him and simply fouled him rather than allow a dunk or a layup. It was a smart move because N’Diaye was 5 of 11 at the line. It was the most free throw attempts he’s had this season. He also had just two rebounds, which was a big reason why UTA dominated the glass 37-27. N’Diaye’s limited minutes also explains why UTA had 36 points in the paint, while UW had 26.
— Simmons, Seferian-Jenkins and Shawn Kemp Jr. played solid minutes off the bench and combined for five points and two rebounds.