Ross' 21 Leads UW To Rebound Win At Oregon State
Feb. 12, 2012
By Gregg Bell
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Lorenzo Romar met with his humbled Huskies in their hotel here before the biggest game of their uneven season. The veteran coach, who has seen just about everything in 17 seasons as a head man, delivered a cleansing message in the wake of Thursday's 25-point loss at Oregon.
"We're not watching film of that last game. Throw Thursday's one out," Romar instructed.
"That was not the Huskies."
This absolutely was.
Ross made three free throws in the final 48 seconds to finish with 21 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season. Wilcox made more clutch foul shots to preserve the lead. Gaddy made exquisite passes and even better defensive plays in the open floor.
And Washington played late like Oregon never happened, staying tied with California in the Pac-12 with a 75-72 victory over Oregon State Sunday at deflated Gill Coliseum.
"Our backs were against the wall," Gaddy said, after the junior point guard had eight points, five rebounds, four assists, just one turnover -- and two marvelously athletic steals to deny the Beavers at least four points on breakaways.
"I was not going to let us lose."
The victory wasn't pretty. Yet it sure looked better than UW's inexplicable, 25-point loss at Oregon Thursday. The Huskies won for the fourth time in five games away from Seattle to stay even with Cal and one game ahead of Oregon, Colorado and Arizona.
They next host Arizona State (4-9 in the league) Thursday night and Arizona Saturday in the final two regular-season games at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Tony Wroten added 12 points and three assists as the Huskies fought through rugged play, another ragged shooting day, foul trouble to three regulars and even an odd, 10-minute delay for Dippin Dots spilled on the floor to sweep Oregon State (15-10, 5-8) in a season series for the sixth time in Romar's 10 seasons leading UW.
"That's the way games are on the road," Gaddy said of this latest grinder. "And we've got three more, so ..."
"We learned that our team is not horrible," Romar said wryly, after Washington's fifth win in six games and 12th in its last 15. "Plus we are in first place with five games to go.
"Although the wins may not look pretty, somehow we have been able to get them done."
Here's how Sunday:
With the rugged grudge match tied for the 11th time, at 58 and 5:27 remaining, the previously struggling Gaddy made his second 3-pointer in as many tries. Washington was still up by three with 2:47 left when Oregon State's Jared Cunningham, the Pac-12's leading scorer who had 23 points Sunday, was barreling toward potentially a tying Beavers shot in the open floor. Gaddy raced back, leaped near the top of the key and stole the ball from Cunningham - all on the knee that he had reconstructed 13 months ago.
"He and I were talking before the game," Romar said of Gaddy, who at times this season has looked unsure. "He was an efficient floor leader, especially in the second half."
Wilcox converted Gaddy's clutch steal into a free throw that kept the Huskies ahead by four.
Ross, who scored 12 of his 21 after halftime, hit a steely jumper with 1:58 left and the crowd roaring, then a free throw with 47.6 seconds remaining to keep UW up 68-63. Wilcox, Desmond Simmons and Ross then made six consecutive made foul shots.
Those gave Washington (17-8, 10-3 Pac-12) a split this weekend in the Willamette Valley, one that felt a whole lot bigger than just one win.
"We blew the Oregon game, but we know we still have a chance to win the Pac-12 outright," Wilcox said, after the most productive of his six games since his return from missing three with a stress fracture in his upper leg.
"We know every game, if we lose we are not going to get first place. ... This was big. We've let games go like this before."
Wilcox, Ross and Gaddy acknowledged on their way onto the team flight home Sunday night that the only way they see getting into another NCAA tournament is by their Huskies winning the conference's regular-season title outright for the second time in four seasons - and second time in a half century. Or by winning the conference tournament again, which as Wilcox said "is really hard to do."
He and the Huskies prefer to stay atop the league over these final five regular-season games.
Losing one at-large way into the NCAAs is one thing the Dawgs took away from that no-show loss at Oregon.
"We HAD to bounce back from that," said Ross, who went to school at Portland's Jefferson High.
"I'm trying to take over the game in the second half. Late in the game I feel my endurance is key, (when) not too many people are in shape."
The top two scoring teams in the Pac-12 waged a rugby-like scrum for much of the first half. Cunningham fell hard on his lower back while being denied by UW's good interior defense on a drive early. He stayed in, then got whacked in the face in the lane. That forced Cunningham to the bench late in the half.
The period ended with Washington shooting 34 percent, with Darnell Gant having three fouls and Aziz N'Diaye two, with leading scorer Tony Wroten 2 for 9 and Ross 4 for 11, and with its defense non-existent on the ball and in the lane at times.
Yet the Huskies were somehow tied at 31 at the break, after rallying from six points down in the final 4:51 of the half. Ross' first made 3 pointer in four tries got UW all the way back into a buoying, and remarkable, 31-all tie at the break.
Soon after halftime, the game was delayed for about 10 minutes when a loose ball and a Beaver both flew into the first row of fans on the sideline opposite the Huskies' bench. The collision caused a girl to drop her frozen Dippin Dots all over the playing floor. After arena workers were not able to mop up all of the sticky mess, game officials took control of the push brooms and mops.
The crowd roared at the ridiculous sight of referees as janitors. The players could only shake their idle heads.
"I couldn't believe that," Wilcox said. "I was just bored."
Bored. But ultimately victorious.
Romar joked that even if UW wins the next five NCAA titles people will ask him what happened at Oregon Thursday.
"Yeah, big picture, we're tied for first place," the Huskies' coach said.
"Big picture, I'd much rather be that than the alternative."