Washington State missed 14 of 20 free throws in the second half to give Washington an opening it needed — Terrence Ross had two points — to win 59-55 and stay with Cal atop the Pac-12.
When the Huskies and Cougars meet on the playgrounds of Seattle this summer, the woofing will be all Dawgs.
Coming back from a 13-point deficit in the second half, Washington made its free throws while Washington State gas-piped from the line, providing a 59-55 triumph Saturday night in Pullman that bordered on the preposterous. It also nearly duplicated the Huskies Jan. 15 game in Seattle when the Huskies came back from 10 down in the second half to win 75-65.
Even coach Ken Bone added to the chaos that will become another classic episode of “Couging It.” Trailing 57-55 with less than 20 seconds left and coming out of a timeout, Bone chose Patrick Simon, a 6-8 sophomore forward who had yet to play in the game, to attempt a game-winning 3-pointer. Simon was wide open in the corner, but the shot fell almost two feet short.
C.J. Wilcox iced matters with two free throws at 10 seconds, and the Cougars were embarrassed in front of more than 9,000 at Beasley Coliseum who endured an earlier snowstorm only to be disappointed.
“They had all the momentum we had all the adversity,” said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. “Wow. Our guys got together and bore down. (The Cougars) missed a lot of free throws and we took advantage.”
The sweep of the Cougars pushed UW back into the Pac-12 Conference co-leadership with Cal at 13-3. The triumph also made for the Huskies’ fourth consecutive 20-win season, a first in school history. The 96 wins over four years equals the total of the four-year Bob Houbregs era in the early 1950s.
Most remarkably, the Huskies won despite only two points from Terrence Ross, who fouled out in 19 minutes. In the first meeting with WSU, Ross had a career-high 30 points and 14 rebounds.
“Obviously, their game plan was to do a good job on him,” Romar said. “But we didn’t have C.J. in the last (Cougars) game. It’s hard to guard them both. If not for him, we’d have been down 10 or 12 points in the first half. He picked up Terrence.”
Although the rally from a 45-32 deficit was the most dramatic feat, the game was won in the first half when Washington, low on energy, smarts and rebounds, nevertheless was tied at 28 at intermission almost exclusively because Wilcox hit four three-pointers in a row.
Even as the Cougars built their second half lead, cracks were showing. In one stretch that climaxed at 45-32, WSU missed 10 of 12 free throws. For the half, the Cougs missed 14 of 20. For the game, the No. 1 free-throw shooting team in conference play missed 15 of 32.
Tony Wroten led the Huskies, who besides the four 3s from Wilcox, missed the rest of their 13 attempts from distance, with 21 points. Wroten was 9 of 12 from the line. After Aziz N’Diaye joined Ross on the bench by fouling out, Abdul Gaddy showed some of his best offense of the season with six of his 10 points in the final four minutes.