Thursday, March 22, 2012

Huskies advance to NIT final four with 90-86 win over the Ducks!

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(24-10,14-4) are advancing to New York City to play in the NIT final four after ending the Oregon Ducks(24-10,13-5) season 90-86. The Huskies were led by Terrence Ross scoring a game high 24 points which had to anger Oregon fans as Ross is from the state of Oregon. For the second straight year the Huskies split the regular season with the Ducks each winning at home and the Huskies winning the third game in postseason play. The Huskies are going back to Madison Square Garden in New York City where they played earlier in the  year losing to two top ranked teams by a combined nine points to Marquette and Duke.  The Pac-12 champions Huskies who made history by being left out of the NCAA tournament are taking advantage of the NIT and are finally coming together as a team. Ross and Tony Wroten are playing terrific ball while C.J. Wilcox has been key off the bench. Abdul Gaddy is starting to show flashes of why he was such a sought after recruit coming out of high school. For the Huskies to end the Ducks season in itself was a big moment as these schools don't like each other. Now the Huskies can pack their bags as they are heading back to Madison Square Garden hoping to cut down the nets and erase the bad memories of their first trip to New York City.

In the first half was a high paced half with tons of lead changes. After being tied at six the Huskies went on a 6-0 run to lead 12-6. The Ducks quickly responded with a 12-2 run to lead 18-14 over the Huskies. After trailing 23-19 Abdul Gaddy went on a 5-0 run to give the Huskies a 24-23 lead over the Ducks. With the Ducks leading 41-39 they went on a 5-0 run to lead 46-39. The Ducks would lead at halftime 46-42 over the Huskies. In the first half the Ducks shot well making 16-30(53.3%) from the field, 4-10(40.0%) from three point range and 10-12(83.3%) on free throws. They were led by E.J. Singler who scored 15 points on four for seven shooting including three for four on three pointers and four for five on free throws. He also had six rebounds and two assists. Tony Woods scored 10 points making all five baskets with a block shot. Olu Ashaulou scored eight point son two for three shooting and made four for five free throws. Devoe Joseph for the second straight game at Washington struggled scoring only three points on one for five shooting making just one for four on three point baskets. The Ducks who won the CBI last year were just 20 minutes away from going to Madison Square Garden and ending the Huskies season.

The Huskies trailed by four points and were in the game due to their rebounding. They outrebounded the Ducks 19-14 including 9-3 on offensive rebounds. They shot 15-34(44.1%) from the field, 4-13(30.8%) on three point range and 8-12(66.7%) on free throws. The Huskies were led by Terrence Ross who scored 12 points on 5-10 shooting including two for five from three point range. Tony Wroten scored nine points on two for five shooting but made five for eight free throws. He added two rebounds, two assists and a steal. Abdul Gaddy had a five first half scoring five points on two for five shooting with a three pointer. He also had six assists, three rebounds and a rare block shot. Darnell Gant playing in his final home game of his Huskies career scored four points on two for four shooting but had six rebounds which included four offensive boards. The Huskies for the second time in this NIT found themselves 20 minutes away from their season being over.

The Huskies began the second half going on an 8-2 run to lead 50-48. Ross would later hit a three pointer to give the Huskies a 66-60 lead with 10:30 left in the game. The Ducks immediately went on a 5-0 run to cut the lead to 66-65. Wilcox would hit a three pointer to cap a 9-0 run to give the Huskies a 75-65 lead with 7:07 left in the game which had the Huskies thinking of New York. After Wroten's tip in to give the Huskies an 80-71 lead with 3:54 left in the game is when the game got interesting. Garrett Sim would hit a three pointer after a Ducks  offensive rebound to cut the lead to 80-74. In fact the Ducks went on a 6-1 run to cut the lead to 81-77. After cutting the lead to 82-79 on the end bound play the Huskies almost turned the ball over instead Ross poked the ball ahead as Wroten had the breakaway dunk to give the Huskies an 84-79 lead with under a minute to go. That is when the slumping Joseph finally woke up drilling a three pointer to cut the lead to 84-82 with 42.4 seconds left. After almost turning the ball over C.J. Wilcox was finally fouled with 29.4 seconds left in the game. Wilcox sank both free throws giving the Huskies an 86-82 lead. The Huskies would get a key defensive stop and then Wroten would immediately pass the ball back to Wilcox who sank both free throws giving the Huskies an 88-82 lead with 20.6 seconds left. The Huskies would win 90-86 as the Ducks scored one final tip in at the buzzer. For the Ducks their season ended in Seattle as for the Huskies they are going to New York City to take on the Minnesota Gophers.

For the Ducks their shot disappeared in the second half making only 3-15(20.0%) from three point range. For the game the Ducks shot 31-69(44.9%) from the field, 7-25(28.0%) from three point range, and 17-22(77.3%) from free throws. They were led by Olu Ashaolu who scored 20 points off the bench on 7-12 shooting and made six for seven free throws. He had nine rebounds including six offensive with two block shots. E.J. Singler who had a big first half was quiet in the second half scoring 19 points(only four in the second half) on 5-12 shooting including three for six on three pointers. Singler fouled out with nine rebounds and four assists. Woods scored 15 points on seven for nine shooting. Devoe Joseph scored his points late scoring 12 points on 4-15 shooting including 3-10 from beyond the arc. The Ducks season which during the year had hopes of an NCAA tournament instead ends in the NIT in Seattle to their bitter rivals as the Huskies celebrated right in front of them.

For the Huskies they shot much better in the second half and played championship defense. The Huskies shot 28-62(45.2%) from the field, 7-19(36.8%) from three point range and 27-35(77.1%) from the free throw line. The Huskies outrebounded the Ducks 37-34 including 14-12 on offensive rebounds. The Huskies once again in the NIT were led by Terrence Ross who perhaps played his final home game as a Husky. Ross scored 24 points on 9-18 shooting including making three for eight on three pointers and all three of his free throws. Tony Wroten scored 22 points on 6-15 shooting and made 10-14 on his free throws. Wroten added seven rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block shot. C.J. Wilcox came on strong off the bench once again scoring 17 points on 4-10 shooting including three for six on three point range. He was a perfect six for six on free throws while dishing out three assists with two block shots. Abdul Gaddy played his best game as a Husky scoring 11 points on three for seven shooting with a three pointer also dished out 10 assists with seven rebounds. He also held Joseph to 4-15 shooting while recording a block shot. Darnell Gant playing his final home game scored six points on three for five shooting also grabbed seven rebounds including five offensive. Aziz N'Diaye who picked up his fourth foul with over eight minutes to go rewarded Romar's trust by sticking with him and didn't foul out. N'Diaye scored five points on one for two shooting but made three for four on free throws. He also added seven rebounds as well. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was a big boost off the bench playing 15 minutes scoring three points on one for three shooting with three rebounds while having four fouls. This was a total team win for the Pac-12 regular season champion Huskies.

For the first time in program history the Huskies are advancing to the NIT final four. Sure the Huskies would rather be playing in the NCAA tournament but hopefully this experience of advancing deep in a tournament can help them for next year. The Huskies offseason will be defined as successful if Ross and Wroten come back. If they choose to leave for the NBA at least this NIT gave Wilcox, N'Diaye and Gaddy a chance to improve their game. The Husky fan base has to feel better about their chances next year due to this NIT than they did a few weeks back. The NIT was a good thing for the Huskies who have hopes of winning the whole tournament. The Huskies are the highest seed remaining in the tournament and will be the favorites to cut down the nets in the mecca of basketball which is Madison Square Garden in New York City.


- Was this Tony Wroten's final home for the Huskies? I guess we'll answer that question for another time. If this was what a way to go out for Wroten. Wroten scored 22 points making 10 for 14 on the free throw line with seven rebounds. Since the disaster ending against the Oregon State Beavers where Wroten missed his final four free throws he has made 13-19(68.4%) which isn't good but a lot better than his season average of 58.4%. In the NIT so far Wroten is averaging 11.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.7 APG. He is also averaging a steal a game and 1.3 blocks per game as well. Wroten is playing well this NIT and impressing NBA scouts in the process.

For the season Wroten is now averaging 16.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 3.8 APG. He is also averaging 1.9 steals per game while shooting 45.0% from the field. Wroten during this game also passed up his mentor Isaiah Thomas for most points scored in a single season by a Huskies freshman. If he had just made two of his four final free throws against the Beavers he would have had the greatest freshman season in Huskies history. Most intelligent fans like myself will realize Wroten had a great season this year for the Huskies. To remember him for those missed free throws is ridiculous and ignoring all the good plays he made for this program.

- After slumping in the first half Wilcox came through once again scoring 17 points off the bench making three three pointers and hitting six clutch free throws including four down the stretch. If Wilcox doesn't get injured in the middle of the year the Huskies are playing in the NCAA tournament. Wilcox in his last five games is averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.0 RPG. He is shooting well too in that stretch making 29-55(52.7%) from the field, 15-33(45.5%) from three point range and 17-21(80.6%) from thre free throw line. He is making on average three full three pointers a game during that stretch.

In the NIT he is averaging 17.3 PPG and 3.7 RPG. He has made eight three pointers during this tournament as well. For the year Wilcox is averaging 14.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks. He is shooting 43.8% from the field, 41.1% on three pointers making 2.3 a game and 84.6% on free throws. Wilcox last year was a shooter but this year he has turned into a scorer. Depending on what Ross and Wroten do Wilcox might have to be the main guy next season. Wilcox has shown when he is healthy the last two years he is capable of that as he is a terrific shooter.

- Abdul Gaddy who had a disappointing junior season has really came on strong lately. Gaddy scored 11 points against the Ducks while dishing out 10 assists and pulling down seven rebounds. He also held Joseph to 4-15 shooting in the process. Gaddy has played well as of late in his last seven games he has averaged 9.4 PPG, 7.1 APG and 2.7 RPG. In this NIT Gaddy is averaging 8.7 PPG, 7.7 APG and 3.7 RPG. He is shooting 9-18(50.0%) from the field and 4-10(40.0%) from three point range.

For the season Gaddy is averaging 8.1 PPG and 5.2 APG. He is shooting 40.4% from the field and 33.3% on three pointers making 0.9 a game. Gaddy has came on strong down the stretch giving me hope he'll have a productive year as a senior. Remember Justin Dentmon? He was a player Husky fans couldn't wait to graduate as he was killing the team as a sophomore and a junior. Then his senior year he was first team all pac-10 as he had a big time senior year. Matthew Bryan-Amaning also came out of nowhere with a first team all pac-10 type of season as well as a senior. Not saying Gaddy will be first-team but he could be honorable mention next year.

- Darnell Gant's home career is officially over. No Husky has played in more games or won more games than Gant has. With the win over Oregon Gant is now 7-3 against the hated Ducks. He is also 7-2 against the Cougars and 8-2 against the Beavers which meant in his four years at Washington the Huskies dominated the Northwest. This win also gave the Huskies 100 wins in Gant's career meaning no other player has ever reached that milestone in 110 years of basketball for the Huskies which Gant just did. When fans look back at Gant's career they'll remember all the wins which is what they should remember. He also had a pretty good game scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds. He defended Singler in the second half holding him to just four points on one for five shooting. Gant is a versatile defender and he proved it once again.

In his last six games Gant is averaging 6.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG. This NIT he is averaging 6.3 PPG and 7.0 RPG. For the season Gant is averaging career highs in both 7.0 PPG and 5.3 RPG. He is shooting 45.7% from the field and 32.4% on three pointers making 0.7 a game.  Gant has the chance to end his career on a five game winning streak something no other Husky has ever done with two more wins at Madison Square Garden.

- Terrence Ross continued playing like a man who wants to play in the NBA. This was most likely the final home game for Ross who torched his homestate team by scoring 24 points on 9-18 shooting with three three pointers. Ross this NIT is averaging 26.3 PPG as he has scored over 20 points in all three games. He is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game as well. He is shooting lights out making 28-54(51.8%) of his field goal attempts including 12-30(40.0%) from three point range while making all 11 free throws as well. Ross has improved his stock quite a bit in this NIT. For the year now Ross is averaging 16.3 PPG and 6.4 RPG. He is also averaging 1.2 steals per game and 0.9 blocks per game. He is shooting 46.1% from the field and 36.9% on three pointers making 2.0 a game. Ross is the real deal and the Husky fans should be appreciative to have seen such greatness for two years. We are all just hoping we could have seen one more year. I have a feeling Ross just played his final home game as a Husky.

- Like he did on Friday Lorenzo Romar thanked the fans after the game. More than 9,000 fans showed up to see the Huskies end the Ducks season. For Romar now he improves to 10-1 all-time at home against the Oregon Ducks as the Huskies finished this season 18-2 at home. In his career against the Ducks Romar is now 15-8 which shows the domination he has over his rivals from the south. The Ducks have still yet to defeat Romar in a season series and he has been coaching the Huskies for 10 seasons now. Just like with Gant pretty incredible achievement for Romar to win his 100th game in a four year span. The Huskies are now 100-40(.714) the last four years including 50-22(.694) in conference play. The Huskies led by Romar have been the kings of the conference the last couple of years. Now if Romar can get the Huskies to the real final four is the obvious next step. This postseason run has been nice to see a Huskies team string some wins together and Romar deserves all the credit for keeping his team focused on the task that had to be done.

The Huskies are going back to New York City where they have a chance to prove to everyone that they were indeed an NCAA tournament team. I think the Huskies have already proved that fact and it has been nice seeing this team play their best basketball of the season. It has been nice seeing guys like Wilcox and Gaddy playing so well heading into next year. Been nice seeing Ross and Wroten having great moments so my final image of them will be positive. It has been especially nice seeing Gant go out the way he is going out. This Huskies team can only play the games on their schedule and right now they are taking advantage of that by advancing to the NIT final four. The Huskies will have a chance to bring home their first ever NIT or NCAA championship in their 110 year basketball history. Winning the NIT although not the ultimate prize is still a huge accomplishment especially for a program like the Huskies.

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