Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Huskies remain tied for first place with 75-72 win over Beavers

By Kshell

Terrence Ross led the Washington Huskies(17-8,10-3) with 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Huskies swept the Oregon State Beavers(15-10,5-8) in the season series with a 75-72 win down in Corvallis. The Huskies won on the road despite shooting poorly all game long. After getting blown out the previous game against the Oregon Ducks the Huskies salvaged their road trip with a split over the Beavers. With the win the Huskies are now tied for first place with the California Golden Bears with just five games remaining in conference play. Three Huskies scored in double figures while Abdul Gaddy hit a three pointer to give the Huskies a lead which they never looked back. With the game on the line redshirt freshman Desmond Simmons sank both free throws to clinch the victory. This was a total team effort as nine guys played for the Huskies while eight of them scored. This was a gut check game for the Huskies who passed the test with a crucial road win as they prepare to head home to take on the Arizona schools who they swept on the road just two weekends ago.

In the first half it would appear that the Beavers were dominating the Huskies and outplaying the Huskies. Instead the game was tied at 31-31 apiece in a half that was pretty sloppy. With the Huskies leading 13-10 the Beavers went on a 6-0 run to take a 16-13 lead. The Huskies would respond with a mini 4-0 run to lead 17-16. Trailing 19-18 the Beavers went on another 6-0 run to lead 24-19 before Terrence Ross hit a three point late in the half to tie it up at 31. For the Beavers they shot 13-39(33.3%) from the field, one for eight(12.5%) on three pointers and what really killed them was 4-13(30.7%) from the free throw line. They were led by Jared Cunningham who scored nine points while grabbing three rebounds. He shot poorly though making just 4-13 shots. Devon Collier also scored nine points for the Beavers making all four field goals but made just one of four free throws. Ahmad Starks scored six points while grabbing five rebounds but shot 3-10 in the first half.

For the Huskies they shot miserable making just 12-45(26.7%) from the field, 3-10(30.0%) from three point range and four of seven(57.1%) on free throws. The Huskies won the rebounding war 17-12 over the Beavers. They were led by Terrence Ross scoring nine points on 4-14 shooting including a three pointer while grabbing five rebounds. C.J. Wilcox scored seven points on three for eight shooting with a three pointer. Tony Wroten struggled scoring seven points on two for nine shooting but grabbed five rebounds. Abdul Gaddy scored five points on two for five shooting making his only three point attempt. The Huskies played terrible for a half and were tied on the road a result Lorenzo Romar would take.

In the second half the game had some nice momentum plays down the stretch. With the Beavers leading 48-46 after a few missed layups on one possession for the Huskies they finally finished with a Ross tip in. Next possession Wilcox hit a three pointer to give them the lead. The Huskies would go on a 10-2 run to lead 56-50. Not to be out done the Beavers would go on a 6-0 run themselves which tied the score at 56. After being tied at 58 Gaddy drilled a three pointer for the Huskies to give them a 61-58 lead as the Huskies never looked back. With a little over two minutes to go the Huskies up 65-60 the Beavers saw Starks drill a long three pointer to cut the lead to 65-63. Ross would answer with a jumper to give the Huskies a 67-63 lead with under two minutes to go. Wilcox would hit two free throws to give the Huskies a 70-65 lead. Starks once again hit a long three pointer with 22.6 seconds left to cut the lead to 70-68. Gaddy had trouble inbounding the ball finally passed to Desmond Simmons. Simmons a 59% free throw shooter sank both free throws to give the Huskies a 72-68 lead. The Beavers would score some late buckets but after Simmons free throws that basically had iced the game as the Huskies had preserved the win and the sweep over the Beavers.

The Huskies outscored the Beavers in the second half 44-41 to earn the crucial win. For the Beavers this season had so much promise after that 10-2 start and unless they totally collapse will have their second winning season in the last 20 years. Still there was talk of making the NCAA tournament this year and after getting swept by both Washington schools at home that talk is all but dead. The Beavers were led by Cunningham who scored 23 points but made just 7-20 shots with two three pointers. Collier scored 16 points and had seven rebounds on six for eight shooting. Starks scored 14 points with seven rebounds on 6-15 shooting with two three pointers. Angus Brandt scored 12 points on six for nine shooting. Eric Moreland scored six points, grabbed nine rebounds and had five block shots for the Beavers as well. Those five players scored all but one point for the Beavers as they had zero depth in this game. Despite playing good defense on the Huskies all game long and having the Huskies play at their pace they lost the game. For the Beavers they have now lost 10 of their last 11 games to the Huskies. No team in this conference has had a more dominant run on the Beavers than the Huskies have had recently.

This was a huge win for the Huskies who won despite shooting 34.8% from the field, 5-17(29.4%) on three pointers and 24-35(68.6%) on free throws. They were led by Terrence Ross who stepped up once again in the second half. Ross scored 21 points on 7-21 shooting while making a three pointer and six of seven free throws. Ross also grabbed 13 rebounds with a steal and two block shots. C.J.Wilcox scored 17 points on 4-11 shooting with two three pointers but made seven of nine free throws. Tony Wroten scored 12 points on 4-12 shooting while making four of seven free throws. Wroten also added seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Abdul Gaddy hit the goahead three pointer scored eight points on 3-10 shooting with two three pointers, five rebounds, four assists with two steals while having just one turnover. Aziz N'Diaye scored six points on two for three shooting but made just two of six free throws. Desmond Simmons scored four points and grabbed nine rebounds making all four free throws. Shawn Kemp Jr continues his solid play off the bench scoring five points making both field goal attempts. The Huskies a team who had no depth in a loss to California now finds themselves nine deep just like that. This was a big win for the Huskies to keep pace with those California Golden Bears.

This wasn't a pretty win by any means but this was a win which is all that matters. The Huskies are now tied for first place in the Pac-12 with five games left in the regular season. With the conference struggling this year nothing is guaranteed far as NCAA tournament berths go. The margain for error is very small for the Huskies as they must keep winnning despite finishing the season with three in a row on the road. The Huskies will play their final home games this week to honor the lone senior Darnell Gant against the Arizona schools. On senior night particularly will be a huge game against the Arizona Wildcats a team they have defeated four straight times at home. The Huskies continued their dominance over the Beavers who haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 1990 when they won the conference with former Sonics great Gary Payton.


- You often hear the saying "the sky is the limit" on player X. When it comes to Terrence Ross that saying is 100% true as he is always leaving you with wanting more. Ross shot poorly today making just 7-21 shots and one for five at the three point line. The sign of a good player is what does he do when his shot isn't falling? Well Ross showed he is NBA in grabbing 13 rebounds including five offensive and blocking two shots. He also made six of seven free throws and once again stepped up his game in the second half scoring 12 points. Why Ross fails to show up in the first half of every game has been a huge mystery. Ross being a future NBA lottery pick if not this year clouds fans judgement on the season he is having. He is having a first team all conference season and could backdoor his way into conference MVP but he should be doing so much more.

For the season Ross is averaging 15.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks. He is shooting 44.2% from the field, 36.4% from three point range knocking down 1.8 three pointers a game and 75.0% on free throws too. His shooting percentages are about the same as last year and his points per minute are about the same too. The difference is he is getting more steals per minute, more rebounds per minute and blocks. He is pulling a Quincy Pondexter in where he is becoming a complete player who is filling up the box score. He is averaging 7.5 rebounds per game, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks all in conference play. Ross has became a complete player which means there is a good chance that Darnell Gant isn't the only one playing in his final game as a Husky this weekend at home.

- Lorenzo Romar continues his dominance over the Beavers improving to 16-5 all-time against them. Romar was swept against the Beavers his first year at Montlake and has since won 16 of 19 games including 10 of his past 11. He is also 8-1 against Craig Robinson the current Beavers coach. Romar is 9-1 at home against the Beavers, 6-4 on the road against the Beavers and 1-0 against them in the Pac-10 tournament. This was your typical grind it out win as the Huskies shot poorly. This year the Huskies don't have the shooters like they have had in the past so they are learning to win in different ways. They have overcame injuries to Scott Suggs for the season and to C.J. Wilcox who basically missed four games. Romar believe it or not is in line to win Pac-12 coach of the year but this conference is so scrambled at that top with four other teams besides the Huskies that could easily change. One thing that hasn't changed is Romar owning the Oregon State Beavers.

This conference comes down to just five teams fighting for three spots in my opinion. California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Arizona are the only schools who are realistically in the NCAA tournament talk. Of those five teams four of them will get a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament meaning one of them will have to win four games in four days. That isn't impossible by any means seeing how UCONN did that just last year winning five games in five days. I feel like the Pac-12 regular season champion and of course the tournament champion(automatic bid) will make the NCAA's. Leaving the other three fighting for one spot. The Huskies will be favored to win their remaining five games starting this Thursday at home against a school they have historically dominated in the Romar era in Arizona State. This team is starting to come together despite that horrible loss in Eugene. Now the Huskies will try to finish up their home schedule and send Darnell Gant out like the winner that he is. This year has been a rollercoaster and I have a feeling we'll have some more ups and downs before this year is over. For the Huskies whenever they are playing the Beavers that is almost always an up on the rollercoaster.

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