Breaking a two-game nonconference losing streak, longest since 2000, the Washington Huskies restored a little confidence with a 66-61 victory over Saint Louis Wednesday night at Alaska Airlines Arena. C.J. Wilcox had another hot game, his 27 points (on 11 of 13 shooting) just one fewer than his career high against Colorado State in a loss Sunday.
“He’s being really aggressive right now,” said coach Lorenzo Romar after the Huskies evened their record at 3-3, same as the Billkens. “When all our guys come back, we don’t want him to change the way he’s playing. The only guy who’s ever done that who has played here was Tre Simmons — he scored 21 points in 13 minutes, I think. But aside from that, it was about as efficient as you can get.”
Aziz N’Diaye scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, which began as a tie at 29. Missing Scott Suggs and Shawn Kemp Jr., the Huskies played just seven players and had two points from the bench. But they had enough to pay back the Billikens for a 13-point loss a year ago in St. Louis.
Cody Ellis led the Billikens with 14 points off the bench. Rob Loe added 13 points for Saint Louis, but leading scorer Dwayne Evans was held to eight points and stuck with foul trouble.
After an ugly first-half with little energy — perhaps due to the rare 9 p.m. start — the Huskies woke up the final 20 minutes. Abdul Gaddy added 16 points for Washington, which played its second game in a row without Suggs, the starting swingman and native of St. Louis who has a foot injury.
Washington started the second half on a 10-4 run led by the aggressiveness of Gaddy. The senior point guard gave Washington its first lead since 12-11 with a basket that made it 33-31.
Washington was up 63-53 before Mike McCall Jr. hit consecutive 3s while Gaddy and freshman Jernard Jarreau each missed the front end of one-and-one free throws. Loe then scored with 26.7 seconds left, and the Huskies’ lead was down to 65-61. But Andrew Andrews, a redshirt freshman making his first start, hit one of two free throws, and the Huskies dribbled out the clock.
“It was good to see our guys out there competing tonight at a higher level than we had in our last game,” Romar said. “I thought our guys did a lot of good things. St. Louis, the way they play, is really tough to guard with big guys that can shoot it so well and guards that are quick coming offv ball screens, All in all, our guys did a good job.”