Ross Again Rallies UW, But In 69-66 Loss To Cal
Jan. 19, 2012
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - California's defense, its coach -- heck, the entire arena -- focused on Terrence Ross. They all expected the slinging sophomore to fire away one more time from deep in an attempt to send this tense game into overtime.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar focused on his senior leader instead.
Romar called the play no one expected. And sure enough, Gant was more open than he was all night when he stepped back behind the 3-point arc to receive a pass from Abdul Gaddy with 2 seconds left.
But Gant's shot fell just as the Huskies ultimately did Thursday night: Short.
Ross' second consecutive big second half rescued the Huskies from 13 points down following their second snoozing opening period in as many games. But Gant's 3-pointer before the final buzzer clanged off the front rim and out to end Washington's 69-66 loss to Pac-12-leading California at roaring but ultimately deflated Alaska Airlines Arena.
"Heck yeah I thought it was going in," Gant said, emerging from a postgame ice bath and holding his head high. "(Coach) came up with a good play. I didn't do my job coming through."
Ross finished with 15 points - 13 in the second half. Aziz N'Diaye had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Tony Wroten had 14 points and five assists for the Huskies (11-7, 4-2 Pac-12), who lost for the second time in 12 games at home.
The Dawgs host Stanford Saturday at 3 p.m. The Cardinal (15-4, 5-2) entered the night tied with Cal for the league lead, then lost at Washington State.
"Honestly, I feel like I am going to bounce back. And I feel like our team is going to bounce back," said Gant, UW's only scholarship senior playing this season.
Washington couldn't stop Cal walk-on Robert Thurman inside early. He had a career-high 16 points. Then the Huskies couldn't stop the Bears' dribble drives that continually set up scores inside and out.
Allen Crabbe had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Bears (16-4, 6-1), who flew in early Wednesday afternoon to ensure Seattle's snow and ice storms didn't keep them from making Thursday's 5:30 p.m. tipoff.
With UW sharpshooter C.J. Wilcox out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his femur, Ross scored 26 Sunday in the second half to rally Washington from behind against Washington State - but for a win.
This time, with UW still missing Wilcox, the hole was too deep to overcome against the more versatile and veteran Bears. Cal did not relinquish the lead they took way back at 10-8 -- before many of the snow-weary fans had even made it into the arena.
"My biggest gripe tonight is that we kind of repeated our mistakes against Washington State," Romar said, still searching for consistency from his young team. "We didn't come out with ... the type of concentration we needed. It picked up more in the second half, but against a team like that it wasn't good enough to overcome the deficit."
A late 3-pointer from Gaddy - UW's only make from deep in 8 attempts in the half - kept the Huskies from being down by more than 35-25 at the break.
They shot 35 percent in that groggy first half. Ross was 1 for 5 and Wroten was 2 for 7. And they allowed Cal to shoot 50 percent in the opening 20 minutes as its three guards constantly drove into the lane, sometimes uncontested, past flat-footed Huskies.
When asked what is up with the Huskies' almost chronically slow starts to games, Gant said: "I have no idea. I really couldn't tell you. These next games, we need to be prepared from the jump.
"Everyone knew the magnitude of the game. We just need to make a much larger effort (early). Every game is bigger now."
Ross had two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first half Thursday, after scoring just four of his 30 points Sunday before halftime. The sophomore was also shaking his head at these slow starts.
"It's definitely hard to come back like that," he said. "We know if we come out like we have the last two games (going forward) there will probably be similar outcomes."
Cal's lead grew to 13 with 4 minutes gone in the second half. But the frantic Huskies got within 47-42 with 13 minutes left on Ross' first made 3 in five tries. Then after a Cal miss, Gaddy deftly faked a jumper, drove down the lane - but missed an open layup that would have pulled the Huskies to within four.
Jorge Gutierrez and Crabbe scored the next two baskets to push Cal back up by eight. Yet the Huskies kept digging.
Ross hit his third 3 of the second half with 1:37 left. Then Desmond Simmons made a great catch under the basket of a long pass by Wroten and finished at the rim. Washington was back within 66-63 with 64 seconds left.
UW still had life after Cal's Justin Cobbs made just one of two free throws amid the noise with 10.1 seconds remaining to make it 69-66. After a Cal timeout, Gant inbounded from the backcourt to Gaddy. The point guard then forced Cal's defense back toward the lane with his dribble. With Ross guarded by the rugged Gutierrez, Gaddy ran coach Romar's called play and found Gant popping back beyond the 3-point arc to the left of the key.
It just wasn't Gant's shot - or night. He finished 0 for 9 overall and 0 for 6 from 3-point range.
"The last game we had he hit three 3's," Romar said of the decision to go with Gant on the final play. "He's shooting over 40 percent (from deep). Sometimes just because somebody is having an off-night, if you look at the body of work they've put forth, you got to take that chance. He's shooting a good percentage and usually knocks those down."
Gant said he wasn't surprised Romar called the play for him.
"No. And I knew I was going to be open," Gant said. "I took the shot with confidence. I just came up short."
QUICK SHOTS: Wilcox had his latest X-rays Wednesday to see if his crack in his leg bone has meshed. It hasn't. So Romar said UW's second-leading scorer at 15.5 points per game will miss Saturday's game, too. He'll get another X-ray next week. ... The attendance was 9,591 - just 409 short of a second consecutive sellout. That's no small feat considering UW's classes had been canceled for the second consecutive day and the governor had declared a winter emergency for this part of the state Thursday. ... The Pac-12's game officials had to fly to Portland, Ore., and drive three-plus hours up Interstate 5 to get to the game.