Terrence Ross had 25 points and five steals and Tony Wroten 22 and nine rebounds, but C.J. Wilcox, MIA in the first half with just two free throws, scored eight points in a three-minute burst of the second half that enabled Washington to pull away from Arizona for a 79-70 victory at Alaska Airlines Arena Saturday.
“A long time ago I looked toward this day and was very hopeful that this would be the position we would be in, with a little breathing room heading into the last part of our schedule,” said UW head coach Lorenzo Romar. “What happened today was great, a great day for all involved, especially our seniors.”
Washington’s “Senior Day” (last home game for UW seniors Darnell Gant and Brendan Sherrer) victory pushed the Huskies’ record to 19-8, including a league-leading 12-3 in the Pac-12. The win was also Washington’s third in a row, dating to last season, over the Wildcats.
The Huskies further completed a four-game sweep of Arizona schools for the first time since 2004 and for just the fourth time ever. UW also swept ASU and Arizona home and away in 1982 and 1984.
UW’s nine-point win was a relative “blowout” compared to its past three with Arizona, which had been decided by a combined total of five points, but the issue wasn’t decided until the final five minutes.
“The only way you beat that Arizona team is to outwork them,” said Romar.
“Arizona just doesn’t go away. They are very physical and well coached, easy to scout but hard to stop. I thought we played together and were very efficient. You especially have to be focused on the defensive end and we were.”
In the first half, Washington busted open a close contest by going on a 9-0 run in a minute of clock time to lead 31-20. Aziz N’Diaye sparked the burst with a pair of monstrous dunks, as the Huskies relentlessly — and successfully — attacked the basket.
But the Huskies suddenly went cold (they made only 39.5 percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes) and allowed Arizona to creep back into it, the Wildcats pulling to within 39-37 at intermission. Ross had 15 of Washington’s 39 and Wroten 10, but Wilcox didn’t even attempt a shot, finishing with two points on a pair of foul throws.
Washington established a 58-52 lead at the 10:34 mark after a great put back by Ross off a 3-point miss by Gant, but couldn’t gain significant separation as Arizona stubbornly hung around. Then Ross drew his fourth personal with 8:25 remaining.
Wilcox suddenly entered the building. Over the next three minutes, he knocked down two big 3-pointers and scored eight points overall, putting UW up 70-61 with a little more than five minutes remaining. Before Wilcox hit those 3-pointers, the Huskies had been 1-for-15 from beyond the arc against the Pac-12 leader at defending the trey.
In the first meeting between Washington and Arizona Jan. 28 in Tucson, the Huskies had a 10-point lead with three minutes to play, squandered it, and needed two Wilcox free throws and a Wroten block at the buzzer to preserve a two-point win. This time, Washington didn’t doze with the lead.
“We wasted clock and took good shots,” said Ross, the sophomore out of Portland, OR. “We had the right mind set and we stayed together. Every time we’ve played Arizona, it’s been a close game. They are a fun team, they’re athletic. When we play them, it’s like playing ourselves in a way.”
Freshman guard Nick Johnson led Arizona with 20 points and Solomon Hill, who tallied 28 in the first meeting between the teams, had 13 with 10 rebounds.
Ross connected on 11 of 19 field-goal tries and added five rebounds, while Wroten had his way with the Wildcats inside, particularly on one play in the second half when he brought the Alaska Airlines arena crowd to its feet with a thunderous dunk off a drive.
“Five steals, highlights all game, and he played good defense,” Romar said of Ross, who also blocked a shot.
“Tony Wroten just kept coming,” Romar said of his freshman guard, who flummoxed the Wildcats by continually penetrating to the basket. “He’s so relentless. He forces the defense to make a decision on every possession.”
While Wroten made only 8 of 22 from the floor, many of his misses came off attempts to put back offensive rebounds. Wroten, a 51 percent foul shooter, made six of nine from the line.
The biggest basket of the game, though, came not from Ross or Wroten, but from Wilcox, his first 3-pointer that sparked UW’s winning run.
“That first three he hit was all Abdul Gaddy,” Romar said, explaining the point guard’s role in maneuvering Wilcox into position to take the shot. “That three got C.J. untracked, that got him going.”
While Washington made just 3 of 18 3-pointers, the Huskies outscored the Wildcats 44-22 in the paint, most of that attributable to Wroten, for whom the Wildcats had no solution.
The Huskies, who had a 40-35 rebound edge and committed a season-low six turnovers, next play at Washington State Feb.25. They close out their conference schedule at USC March 1 and at UCLA March 3.
In a concession to “Senior Day,” and to the delight of Dawg fans, Romar started “Human Victory Cigar” Brendan Shrerrar, in what was his last home game, in the post in place of N’Diaye. Sherrer didn’t score, but got a rebound and made two nice defensive plays. He played a couple of minutes and didn’t re-enter the game until 30 seconds remained, when Washington’s victory was assured.
University of Washington 2011-12 Schedule/Results
(Rankings Are Current)
|Date||Opponent||UW Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|11/4/11||vs. Seattle Pacific||—||—||W||77-60||0-0|
|11/12/11||vs. Georgia State||—||—||W||91-74||1-0|
|11/13/11||vs. Florida Atlantic||—||—||W||77-71||2-0|
|11/20/11||at Saint Louis||—||—||L||77-64||3-1|
|11/25/11||vs. Houston Baptist||—||—||W||88-65||4-1|
|12/2/11||at Nevada||—||—||L||76-73 (OT)||4-2|
|12/16/11||vs. UC Santa-Barbara||—||—||W||87-80||5-4|
|12/18/11||vs. South Dakota St.||—||—||L||92-73||5-5|
|12/22/11||vs. Cal-State Northridge||—||—||W||74-50||6-5|
|12/29/11||vs. Oregon State||—||—||W||95-80||7-5|
|1/10/12||vs. Seattle U.||—||—||W||91-83||10-6|
|1/15/12||vs. Washington St.||—||—||W||75-65||11-6|
|1/26/12||at Arizona St.||—||—||W||60-54||13-7|
|2/12/12||at Oregon St.||—||—||W||75-72||17-8|
|2/16/12||vs. Arizona State||—||—||W||77-69||18-8|
|2/25/12||at Washington St.||—||—||—||—||—|