Ross To The Rescue! UW Rallies Past UCLA 71-69
Feb. 2, 2012
By Gregg Bell
But, hey, Terrence Ross was just getting warmed up.
Then he got ridiculous.
"I knew I really had to step up," said the somewhat shy -- off the court, anyway - sophomore. "I mean, the way I step up is scoring."
Ross set the Bruins ablaze with 18 of his 22 points in the second half. That included his steal and seven points during the decisive, 13-0 run that sent always-thrilling Washington to a crazy, 71-69 victory Thursday night inside head-ringing bedlam at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Huskies beat UCLA for the fourth consecutive time, their longest win streak over UCLA since - get this -- 1952.
"I almost cried. I really did - and I don't cry like that," said senior captain Darnell Gant, whose monster dunk capped his 12-point night and the game's decisive run with 2:08 left to give Washington a 68-65 lead.
After a late timeout, Gant was standing at center court asking the roaring crowd for even more noise. They, of course, obliged.
"The fact that it's so emotional, and we pulled that win off, we dodged a bullet," Gant said. "We are battling for a Pac-12 championship, and we don't want to look back in the summer time and say, 'What if? What if we played harder in that UCLA game?'"
The rally was so satisfying, coach Lorenzo Romar put it among his proudest moments of 10 hugely successful seasons leading the Huskies (15-7, 8-2 Pac-12). They watched UCLA's Norman Powell miss from the corner at the final buzzer to end their 10th win in 12 games.
The Dawgs are now alone in first place in the conference, after Arizona beat former co-leader California 78-74 in Berkeley later Thursday night.
"That was one of my proudest moments, those last five, six minutes, the way we came together as a team," Romar said, after his 500th career game.
Ross was the glue.
His deep jumper with 2:35 left, his sixth and seventh points in four possessions, put Washington up 66-65. It was the Huskies' first lead in 13 minutes.
Thursday was the second runaway second half in 2½ weeks for Ross. He scored 26 of his career-high 30 points after halftime to bury Washington State Jan. 15.
Against UCLA, he was just 2 for 4 from the field with two turnovers in 16 minutes of the first half. He made 7 of 8 shots in the second period. His only miss was in the final minute with UW back in front.
He hit 9 of 12 shots overall for his third, 20-point game of the season and fourth of his 56-game Huskies career.
"Terrence got that gleam in his eye that forces you to give him the ball without even asking," Romar said.
The electric Ross was still getting cheered 10 minutes after the game, as fans loudly welcomed him back onto the floor for a postgame radio interview.
"We knew it was time to attack," he said minutes later. "I think me being quiet in the first half, not really doing much, kind of makes the defender relax. When I do decide to just go at 'em, it kind of makes it easier for me because they are not applying the same pressure (as before).
Oh, OK, Terrence, so you are just sandbagging them?
"If that's what you want to call it," Ross said bashfully, turning his head, smiling and laughing.
Wroten got a Bruin's knee into his thigh early in the game, then banged knee his knee into another UCLA player late, yet still scored 13 points and made all five of his free throws. The injuries limited the usual drives into the lane by scoring sensation averaging 17 points per game, second in the Pac-12 and third among all Division-I freshmen.
Wroten tweeted after the game that he was getting "a scan on my thigh," though Romar said it didn't appear to be a big issue.
Gant had 12 points including that monster slam off a steal by C.J. Wilcox to end the remarkable run for the Dawgs, who have now won eight straight over the Bruins in Seattle.
Wilcox did not practice all week save for 50 jump shots per day on the side of practices while still resting a stress fracture in his upper left leg, yet he scored 13 points off the bench. N'Diaye finished with seven points and 11 rebounds amid the night-long foul trouble trying to corral big Josh Smith.
The Huskies had 14 turnovers over the first 30 minutes of the game, and were only in it because Gant had 10 early points and the team was shooting over 50 percent from the field. The 6-11, 300-plus-pound Smith of UCLA (12-10, 5-5) had a career high 21 points by that point, with N'Diaye's backups Shawn Kemp Jr. and Austin Seferian-Jenkins unable to slow him. And then the Bruins warmed up from outside.
A Smith free throw and a lay-in by Travis Ware had UW down 63-53 with 7 minutes left. It was 65-55 with 6 to go.
That's when Ross, Gant and Washington went bonkers. And bedlam reigned inside Alaska Airlines Arena on '70's night.
"The Dawg Pack was ON tonight," Romar said, though he meant all 9,756 screamers in attendance. "The place got so loud ... (fans), you were just as much a part of this as anything."
The Dawg Pack wore Afro wigs under head bands and bell-bottom pants. The students joined UW cheerleaders in wearing high tube socks with wide, purple-and-gold stripes. Romar regretted the Huskies didn't have on garish, striped warm-ups like he wore before his games at Washington in 1979 and '80.
And then Ross went Lloyd Free on UCLA (kids, look it up).
"The thing about Terrance is, people sleep on his will to win. That guy has a will to win," Gant said. "He might be quiet to everybody else, but the things I catch him saying in the locker room and the things he says personally, man, that guy has a will to win.
"He hates losing."