When Nigel Williams-Goss connected on a 3-pointer to open the second half, the Huskies let Oregon know the first 20 minutes were in the rear-view mirror. The shot cut a 42-32 halftime lead to seven and immediately put the Ducks on their heels. It keyed a 53-point second half for an 85-77 Huskies victory at Alaska Airlines Arena Sunday. Andrew Andrews scored a game-high 21 points and Williams-Goss had 20 points and five assists to lead the Huskies. Donaven Dorsey added 13 points off the bench, including eight in a crucial second-half stretch as Washington pulled away.
Wednesday, as coach Lorenzo Romar answered questions regarding his team’s curious four-game losing streak, he pointed to the need for players to start making open shots. The dominant second half showcased his point.
“We have a triangle of guys that can put the ball in the basket, but I think we need to fill in the blanks some times,” Romar said. “(Sunday) we filled in the blanks.”
Oregon (12-6, 2-3), coming off a 108-99 overtime loss to Washington State, isn’t exactly a lock-down defensive squad. Still, the UW production can be seen only as a positive as the Huskies head into the meat of their Pac-12 Conference slate.
“With our team, it’s so uplifting when we start to see a couple (of shots) go in.”
In a game of runs, the Huskies utilized a 25-10 run to begin the second half and an 11-0 run with the game tied 59-59 at 9:51 to secure the second comeback victory in Seattle sports in a span of four hours.
The absence of 6-foot-9 Jernard Jarreau, out for up to six weeks after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, was felt for a second time. Washington (13-4, 2-3) needed every bit of its explosive second half to counter the absence of Jarreau’s length in the interior. The Ducks exploited it early.
A 23-2 run over a 5:24 span catapulted Oregon to a 29-16 lead midway through the first half. The Ducks managed to combine efficiency from beyond the three-point arc with dominant athletic play in the interior.
Oregon’s combination of Jordan Bell and Dwayne Benjamin was too much for the slower Washington big men, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Robert Upshaw, to defend. Foul trouble forced them to the bench and Romar to turn to lightly used reserve Gilles Dierickx to provide size in the front court.
The Ducks continued to assault the paint as Bell posterized Dierickx for two of Oregon’s 18 points in the paint. Together, Benjamin and Bell combined for 21 of Oregon’s 42 first-half points. The Ducks also were 6-for-12 from 3-point range in the first half.
“It just kind of messed up our rotation a little bit,” Romar said of the foul trouble. “We just weren’t quite as good defensively.”
Benjamin capped the half with an uncontested windmill jam for the 42-32 lead. He had 15 points, second to the 16 provided by Dillon Brooks. But Washington avoided fouls in the second half, which allowed its defense to lead to offense.
“I feel like it was our defense, to be honest,” Andrews said of the difference in the second half. “Once we stopped giving them so many open looks and we started rebounding the ball, we were able to get out in transition and make it a track meet.”
After playing 12 minutes in the first half, Upshaw played all but two minutes in the second to finish with 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
With two conference wins in tow, Washington heads on the road for games at Colorado and Utah next week.
“I wouldn’t have liked to have seen the situation if we wouldn’t have done this,” said Romar. “Now that we have won these two (games), we have a little more life now.”