It was a record-setting day for Washington. After racing past Oregon State 87-81:
— Lorenzo Romar notched his 250th win as UW coach.
— C.J. Wilcox climbed into seventh place on the school’s all-time scoring list.
— And Nigel Williams-Goss scored 32 points, the most ever by a UW freshman.
But that’s not even half the story.
As good as Williams-Goss was – and he was spectacular – Saturday’s victory in front of 7,112 was a team effort for the Huskies who improved to 13-8 and 5-3 in the Pac-12. They trailed 12 points early in the second half and appeared overpowered by a OSU’s big front line and overwhelmed by Roberto Nelson, who had 31 points.
They rallied behind a frenetic defensive effort that sparked a 31-17 run to take at 73-65 lead at the 5:02 mark. Despite their four-guard lineup and lack of size, the Huskies outrebounded the Beavers 34-27. Washington never really stopped Oregon State, which was ranked seventh nationally in field goal percentage. The Beavers shot 49.1 percent and had five more points than their scoring average.
However, UW beat OSU at its own game.
The Huskies shot 50 percent from the field and scored the most points since dropping 95 on Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 27. Washington attacked OSU’s big front line. The Huskies scored 52 points in the paint. OSU had 34 inside.
Neither team had many turnovers – UW with seven and OSU five – and the good shooting didn’t allow many fast breaks. Both players had to execute their offense and the Huskies did a better job.
The Beavers went all out to stop Wilcox, which allowed scoring opportunities for others – especially Williams-Goss.
“I know it’s high school and it’s not college, but when he was in high school, that’s what he would do,” Romar said. “The bigger the game, the bigger potential for him to do something like that. He just kind of gets … he’s very aggressive. All of a sudden I just think everything opens up and the game is in slow motion to him where he can just see it. And I think he was in one of those zones. He wasn’t in a shooting zone, although he was 3-for-4 from 3. He was just in a zone in terms of playing at a high, efficient level and I’ve seen that before.”
Romar said it was the best performance by a UW player at Alaska Airlines Arena since Brandon Roy had back-to-back 35-point outings on Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 against Arizona State and Arizona.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Before Saturday, Williams-Goss had a nice freshman season while averaging 12.1 points and leading UW with 3.7 assists average. But his performance against Oregon State is going to get folks talking. Williams-Goss turned heads after a gutty 12-point outing at Arizona State. But 32 points is going to resonate around Pac-12. It’s the most points by a UW player since Terrence Ross did it in 2012. It also broke Tony Wroten Jr.’s 29-point freshman scoring record.
And it wasn’t just the scoring, but the manner in which Williams-Goss impressed Romar who marveled at the freshman’s efficiency. Williams-Goss converted 10 of 15 field goals, including 3 of 4 on three-pointers. He was 9 of 10 on free throws. He also had five points and three assists without a turnover in 34 minutes.
Williams-Goss thoroughly outplayed freshman point guard counterpart Hallice Cooke, who had eight points.
When asked about Williams-Goss, OSU coach Craig Robinson said succinctly: “He’s a good player.”
— Wilcox had 10 of his 14 points in the second half. He was 7 of 13 from the field and 0 for 3 on three-pointers. Wilcox had a three-pointer in the previous eight games. OSU hounded him with Langston Morris-Walker and 6-10 Eric Moreland. Using Moreland to defend Wilcox was a curious coaching decision by Robinson. Moreland is second on OSU’s blocks list, but he spent the majority of the game on the perimeter which gave the Huskies room to drive to the basket.
— Perris Blackwell had to work for each one of his five baskets and seven rebounds. He had a couple of shots blocked by OSU’s big front line, but Blackwell kept battling inside. He was fiery and emotional, which sent revved up the crowd and UW players. His layup midway in the second half tied the game at 53-53. Blackwell also did a great job staying out of foul trouble while providing a little bit of defensive resistance inside.
— The Huskies wouldn’t have won without Mike Anderson, who may have been their most important player in the second half. Anderson gave up six inches to Moreland, but the OSU forward had just one point. Anderson also did a good job of grabbing rebounds (he had five), leading fast breaks and passing to teammates open on the perimeter. Anderson had a season-high tying five assists. He also had eight points, making 4 of 4 free throws.
— Shawn Kemp Jr. was on the floor with the starters during UW’s decisive run in the second half. Paired with Blackwell, they were big enough to slow down OSU’s front line. Kemp played 20 minutes and had seven points and four rebounds.
— Andrew Andrews was the only starter on the bench when the Huskies took over the game. Don’t read too much into that. Romar said he just didn’t want to mess with the defensive chemistry between the guys on the floor, which explains why UW didn’t make a substitution for nearly 11 minutes. Andrews played a season-low 22 minutes. He had 11 points.
— Desmond Simmons (five rebounds) and Darin Johnson combined for five points. Johnson did not play in the second half.