Despite foul trouble and losing late a 10-point lead, Washington pulled off a rare road win at Arizona to share the Pac-12 lead.
It’s not often that the University of Washington basketball team sweeps a pair in the desert against the Arizona schools, and it wouldn’t have happened this season without either Tony Wroten or C.J. Wilcox. Both figured prominently in UW’s grind-it-out win over Arizona State Thursday, and both did so again in a 69-67 victory over Arizona Saturday.
Wilcox, playing limited minutes in his second game back after missing three games with a stress fracture in his femur, hit two free throws with 5.3 seconds left, providing UW with its margin of victory. Wroten blocked Arizona’s final, frantic shot with a tick remaining as the Huskies won two in Arizona for the first time since 2006.
Washington held a 10-point lead with less than three minutes remaining, but frittered it away by missing three key free throws, committing fouls and losing possession when the Huskies couldn’t complete an in-bounds play within the required five seconds at the 1:59 mark.
After Arizona tied it at 67 with a 3-pointer, Wilcox, after missing a free throw, made two. Wroten stuffed Josiah Turner’s driving shot to preserve the win, Washington’s biggest and best of the 2011-12 season.
“We beat a very credible team on the road,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. “Now we can start to think about making a run to win the league.”
With the victory, its ninth in 11 games, Washington improved to 14-7 overall and 7-2 in Pac-12 play, which puts Washington temporarily in the lead, pending results Sunday in games for Oregon and Cal, both 6-2. The Huskies have a three-game winning streak.
“Our guys really stepped up and showed a lot of growth and maturity today,” said an elated Romar. “And we did it in the most hostile environment in which we we play. I was really happy that we came out right away and played good defense. We might have buried ourselves if early we hadn’t.”
Washington scored 14 points in the first five minutes, but only 15 in the next 15 due to poor shot selection, bad execution, and a shower of turnovers. Arizona held a 32-29 lead at the half, as Washington made just 40 percent of its field goal attempts and 40 percent of its free throw tries.
In the second half, UW began forcing Arizona into turnovers — the Wildcats wound up with 15 — and the Huskies slowly began a separation, which reached 10 points with slightly more than two minutes to play.
But the Huskies couldn’t hold off the Wildcats, who whittled away at UW’s lead until Wilcox’s two free throws.
Washington had to play a significant portion of the second half with three key operatives in foul trouble — Ross, Wroten and Abdul Gaddy, all with four personals.
“I haven’t been as proud of our team in any game this year as I am now,” said Romar. “We won two road games prior to this (at Utah and Arizona State), but it’s very hard to get a win in this building (McHale Center). This is three consecutive road wins for us. I see us gaining more consistency.”
In addition to his game-ending block, Wroten led the Huskies with 17 points while Terrence Ross had 16 and three steals and Wilcox 12 points in 26 minutes. Aziz N’Diaye also came up big with 12 points and eight rebounds.
UW had no solution for Arizona’s Solomon Hill, who made 9 of 10 field goal attempts and finished with a career-high 28 points.
“I was lucky enough to knock down some shots tonight,” said Wilcox. “We just had to grind it out and get the win.”
Washington, which connected on just seven free throws in 16 attempts, five by Wroten, while Arizona made 21 of 29, held the Wildcats to just four 3-pointers. Arizona knocked down 15 against Washington State Thursday.
Washington returns to Alaska Airlines Arena next week to host USC and UCLA.
University of Washington 2011-12 Schedule/Results
(Rankings Are Current)
|Date||Opponent||UW Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|11/4/11||vs. Seattle Pacific||—||—||W||77-60||0-0|
|11/12/11||vs. Georgia State||—||—||W||91-74||1-0|
|11/13/11||vs. Florida Atlantic||—||—||W||77-71||2-0|
|11/20/11||at Saint Louis||—||—||L||77-64||3-1|
|11/25/11||vs. Houston Baptist||—||—||W||88-65||4-1|
|12/2/11||at Nevada||—||—||L||76-73 (OT)||4-2|
|12/16/11||vs. UC Santa-Barbara||—||—||W||87-80||5-4|
|12/18/11||vs. South Dakota St.||—||—||L||92-73||5-5|
|12/22/11||vs. Cal-State Northridge||—||—||W||74-50||6-5|
|12/29/11||vs. Oregon State||—||—||W||95-80||7-5|
|1/10/12||vs. Seattle U.||—||—||W||91-83||10-6|
|1/15/12||vs. Washington St.||—||—||W||75-65||11-6|
|1/26/12||at Arizona St.||—||—||W||60-54||13-7|
|2/12/12||at Oregon St.||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/16/12||vs. Arizona State||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/25/12||at Washington St.||—||—||—||—||—|