No team had a lead bigger than six points, but Washington prevailed 75-72 Sunday by, of all things, shooting well from the free throw line. They share the Pac-12 lead with Cal.
Depends on what you call ugly.
After losing 82-57 in Eugene Thursday to Oregon, Washington knew ugly. So disjointed and awkward as was the 75-72 win Sunday in Corvallis against Oregon State, the game to the Huskies was the full Angelina Jolie.
The win pushed up the Huskies into a tie at 10-3 with Cal for the Pac-12 Conference lead, but more important, restored some team equilibrium after what could have been a lingering humiliation against the Ducks.
“It was such a bad loss the other night, it seemed like that was the only game played all year,” said coach Lorenzo Romar. “(Sunday) wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t a clinic, but we’re 10-3 and I’m pleased with where we are.”
Where UW is, is in a five-team group at the top, which includes Arizona, Oregon and Colorado a game back at 9-4. The five have a little separation from the rest, but not much among themselves. The degree of difficulty against OSU (5-8, 15-10) Sunday demonstrated how little air there is in the Pac-12, even if the air isn’t thin, RPI-wise.
Holding the edge in a hackfest uncharacteristic of the league’s two highest scoring teams, Washington made 20 of 28 free throws in the second half (24 of 35 for the game) to stymie the Beavers. Washington was 10th in the conference in free throw percentage, but made eight of 10 from the line in the last minute, including a crucial pair from freshman Desmond Simmons with 21.5 seconds left to put up UW 72-68.
“Desmond probably has not been in that position in his short career with us,” Romar said. “Neither (free throw) hit the rim.”
Neither team led by more than six in a game that had 11 ties and 13 lead changes. Foul trouble scrambled UW’s rotation — senior reserve Darnell Gant fouled out in 10 minutes — but the Beavers failed to take advantage. OSU hit 16 for 26 from the free throw line when Washington was shooting 34 percent from the field, its worst marksmanshp in a conference game this season.
“We can’t let the last game affect this one,” Ross said. “Our main goal was not to let (the Oregon outcome) affect us.
“Being mentally tough and focused, that’s what gets you through. We thought about the loss, made a whole bunch of adjustments and attacked their press.”
The Pac-12′s leading scorer, Jared Cunningham, led the game with 23 points, but took a pounding to get them. In the first half he was knocked hard to the floor and was hit in the head by a knee. In the second half, we was clipped in the face by an elbow from Aziz N’Diaye in a rebound battle.
But the physical nature of the game pleased Romar because it demonstrated that the Huskies were not knocked back by the magnitude of the Ducks loss.
“My biggest fear was that we don’t play well in both (Oregon) games and come back into (the standings) with what seems like 12 teams,” Romar said. “Now we go to practice Tuesday with some good self-esteem.”