Huskies Grow But Lose At Buzzer At MSG
Dec. 6, 2011
By Gregg Bell
NEW YORK - The brightest lights in the land weren't too much for these young Huskies.
Ultimately, Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder were.
"If we continue to make progress like this we are going to be fine," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told his players immediately after Terrence Ross had 19 points, nine rebounds and the go-ahead score with 17 seconds remaining -- but Crowder made a corner 3-pointer with 7 seconds left to send undefeated, 11th-ranked Marquette past UW 79-77 on a wild Tuesday night in the 2011 Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
"We made progress tonight," Romar told his Huskies.
It was a game as great as the stage.
C.J. Wilcox scored 15 points and got hot early as Washington took an 11-2 lead. But Marquette (8-0 for the first time in five years) battled back into the lead behind Johnson-Odom, who finished with 23 points.
The second half was tense and fantastic. There were nine ties and 19 lead in all. "The World's Most Famous Arena" was roaring.
"For us to come out and play with them was a rare opportunity. It was good for us," said Ross, who was one of four Huskies to play much of the second half with four fouls. "The setting - the most famous arena in sports. The late-game situation. It was unbelievable."
In most non-conference seasons, Romar's UW teams have growth spurts from November through December similar to the one going on now - but while getting by at home. The difference this year is those growing pains are more costly in terms of wins and losses because of an unusual number of games away from home against ranked teams.
The Huskies (4-3), with five freshman plus Ross, a dynamic sophomore, fell to 0-3 away from Alaska Airlines Arena.
But this -- UW overcoming foul trouble to seize back the lead in a thrilling second half - was light years of progress from its previous two games away from home, at blowout loss at Saint Louis (which then became ranked) last month and an overtime loss at the buzzer Friday at Nevada.
"If we do this down the road we'll be OK," Romar said.
"We are a whole different team than we were even two weeks ago."
Dick Vitale, who called Tuesday's gem for ESPN's national television audience, tweeted early Wednesday morning: "Washington should be the Class of Pac12 after what Saw vs a tough Marquette team."
The Huskies will remain in New York through Saturday's game against Duke, a 9 a.m. Pacific-time game that figures to be more of a track meet than this bruising Manhattan street fight.
"It was a challenge for us to go against a team that everyone said was more physical," Ross said. "We came out and proved we can be physical with anybody we play."
The winning sequence came after Ross had tied the game at 75 on a tip in of a miss by Abdul Gaddy with 87 seconds remaining. Marquette took the lead back at 76-75 on a free throw. Romar then called time out and a play for Ross on the left low block.
Rugged Marquette, which has guards that look like linebackers, pushed Ross out more toward the foul line. No matter. Gaddy fed Ross at the side of the lane, and the versatile scorer powered into the lane through two defenders to put UW back up 77-76 with 15.7 seconds left.
At the other end and with the crowd of 8,231 screaming, Crowder ran below a low-block screen by MU's Jamil Wilson. That picked off Desmond Simmons, who was gritty all night with a career-high seven rebounds and countless hustle plays to go with his eight points. Darnell Gant, Crowder's defender, banged into Simmons trying to go over the top of Wilson's screen. Simmons lunged in vain while falling toward Crowder before Crowder swished the wide-open 3 from the corner with 6.3 seconds left.
"Just a miscommunication on defense," Gant said, meaning on whether to switch on Wilson's screen.
Gaddy brought the ball into the frontcourt for UW, which played on instead of calling a time out and letting MU's defense scheme and set. Gaddy was 30 feet from the basket in front of the Huskies' bench and couldn't see through two Golden Eagles that Crowder didn't get back on defense and that Gant was alone on the opposite wing. Gaddy forced up a rushed shot that hit the top of the backboard as time expired.
Though fans will notice Washington had 24 fouls called on it to Marquette's 14, and that the Golden Eagles were 19 of 27 from the foul line to the Huskies' 5 for 10, Romar thought the difference in the game was Marquette beating the Dawgs' defense back down the floor for easy transition baskets.
Washington banged with the brutish Golden Eagles of the Big East - banged through them at time. The Huskies solidified their place as the nation's fourth-best rebounding team by out-rebounding Marquette 46-32.
That was despite having to back off some inside later in the game. Seven-footer Aziz N'Diaye finished with 13 rebounds despite playing with four fouls. Tony Wroten, the 6-foot-5 freshman point guard, had six rebounds to go with his 13 points, three assists and three turnovers.
"I think we answered the call," Simmons said. "Everyone says when the bright lights go on you've got to step up.
"And we stepped up."
QUICK SHOTS: The Huskies wore new, purple patches on the front upper-right side of their purple jerseys to remember Andrew Moritz. The member of UW's 1998 and '99 NCAA tournament teams died last week after a three-year battle with a rare sarcoma, a desmoplastic round cell tumor. The patch has the initials A.M. and the years of Moritz's life. ... Romar remains hopeful senior sharpshooter Scott Suggs can make his season debut on this trip, Saturday against Duke. Suggs had surgery to repair a broken foot on Oct. 14 and has been targeting the New York trip for his return since then. ... This is the Huskies' third trip into Madison Square Garden. They lost to Texas A&M and Syracuse in the 2006 Preseason NIT, and in 1941 they beat New York University. ... Tuesday's nightcap to the annual Jimmy V Classic to benefit cancer research was a rematch 2010's NCAA tournament first-round game in San Jose, Calif., which Quincy Pondexter won 80-78 by making a shot with 1.7 seconds remaining. ... The Golden Eagles were coming off a huge win Saturday at No.-9 Wisconsin. Johnson-Odom had 17 points in that game.