Huskies Run Like Greyhounds Early, Cruise Past ASU
Feb. 16, 2012
By Gregg Bell
SEATTLE - "Bored with success."
Now that's a switch for these Huskies, who can't seem to make any game completely easy.
"Terrence Time" arrived again when Terrence Ross made 4 of 5 shots and scored 11 of his 18 points in his latest, breakout second half. But the Huskies frittered a 24-point lead into an 11-point edge in seven, disinterested minutes to sully the not-as-close-as-it-sounds, 77-69 victory over Arizona State at Alaska Airlines Arena Thursday night.
The defensive got lax. And the offense, which has worked marvelously with extra passes and fast-break scores en route to a 20-point lead in the first half, suffered from quick, unwise shots after consecutive buckets by Ross and a free throw by Tony Wroten had UW up 50-26 with 18:18 left.
"We just got bored with success, trying to get the game over with," junior point guard Abdul Gaddy said, after a career high-tying eight assists. "We've got to be more mature with that."
In the end, so what.
The Huskies' 13th win in 16 games kept Washington (18-8, 11-3 Pac-12) tied for first place in the conference with California, with four games remaining in the regular season. The Bears rallied at home past Oregon earlier Thursday. That puts the Ducks two games behind the conference leaders.
C.J. Wilcox looked as healthy as he's been in a month while scoring 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting and Wroten had 13 for the Huskies.
They next play Arizona (19-8, 10-4) Saturday at noon in a mega-important home finale - and not just for departing seniors Darnell Gant and Brendan Sherrer. The Wildcats won by three at Washington State earlier Thursday to stay a game behind Cal and UW.
"We're still learning. We're still growing," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We're trying to build a machine that plays one way, the right way."
The Huskies' remaining games after Arizona are at Washington State, at USC and at UCLA.
Ross said this was how the Dawgs need to come out - frothing and on the attack - to ensure a place in next month's NCAA tournament. Players and coaches alike believe winning out and finishing atop the Pac-12 should ensure an at-large bid.
The team finishing with the best record in the Pac-10/Pac-8/Pacific Coast Conference has made every NCAA tournament since 1954.
"We just have to come out like this, like it's our last, championship game," Ross said, on his way out of the arena with his mother. "We've got to come out and compete.
"We've got to turn it up in the second half (against Arizona, which UW beat after another fast start in a wild one Jan. 28 in Tucson) -- and play like we did in the first (Thursday), sharing the ball."
Washington forced 19 turnovers from sloppy, 10th-place Arizona State (8-18, 4-10) while beating the Sun Devils for the 18th time in 21 games. ASU had leading scorer, rebounder and steals maker Trent Lockett back from the ankle injury that kept him out when UW rallied to win 60-54 in Tempe Jan. 26.
But Lockett scored 11, inconsequential points, as Washington led by 18 after its breakneck first half.
For the first time in recent memory, the Huskies played like they love to - that is, like unleashed greyhounds. They ran at will off 12 Arizona State turnovers in the first half. That is why they made 19 of 31 shots. The 61.3 percent was the third-best shooting in a half this season, behind second halves against Duke and Stanford.
Gant scored nine points at the end of the half almost faster than you can say "senior's next-to-last home game." Gant had his first made 3-pointer in four games during his nine points in 3 minutes.
Asked if he's ever scored so many points so quickly, Gant smiled and said, "Not in college."
The best of his scoring surge was his twisting, raising put-back slam of a miss by Aziz N'Diaye. That had the Huskies up 42-24 - and the arena rockin.
Gant added extra oomph to his dunk by doing a modified chin-up on the rim following it.
He admitted he put extra juice into the slam.
"My teammates have always been able to clown on me for not being able to jump off one foot," Gant said.
"Well, I dunked on one foot."
The lead got to 20 on a pass from Gaddy and score inside by N'Diaye, who briefly went to the locker room after banging knees with a Sun Devil earlier in the half. The 7-foot center braced the resulting fall with his already banged-up wrist, causing more pain.
Romar thinks N'Diaye will be OK to play against Arizona. That'd be nice for UW, seeing how N'Diaye returned from his fall to score 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting with four rebounds in 24 minutes against ASU.
"We need him. He's our anchor. I've always said that," Gant said. "We need to keep him healthy with his wrist and keep him off the floor."