Despite shooting a season-low 32 percent from the field, Washington managed to beat over-matched Northern Illinois 67-57 Saturday afternoon to complete a run of French pastry on its home schedule with a fourth consecutive win. C.J. Wilcox scored 22 points to lead all scorers.
After a 75-73 loss at home to Nevada Dec. 8, Washington (8-4) beat Seattle U., Jackson State and Cal Poly before oozing past the 2-9 Huskies of the Mid-American Conference before a small crowd at Alaska Airlines Arena. Most Huskies fans stayed home to watch the football team lose in th Las Vegas Bowl to Boise State, 28-26.
“Interesting game for us,” said coach Lorenzo Romar. “I can’t remember a game where we shot 32 percent from the field. That hadn’t been a pattern for this team. We had been shooting a high percentage, and then tonight all of a sudden – with a lot of open looks – the ball didn’t go down. Thank goodness our free throws did.”
Washington hit 22 of 24 free throws, while the visiting Huskies hit 8 of 11. UW’s bench missed 12 of 13 shots from the field.
“I don’t know if (poor shooting) was a carry-over to other areas of the game,” Romar said. “We didn’t have 20 turnovers, but our turnovers led to points for them and made it a little easier for them to get buckets at times.”
Aziz N’Diaye had his fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds, helping Washington to a 43-34 rebound edge. Wilcox topped the 20-point mark for the seventh time in eight games.
Sophomore Abdel Nader came off the bench to lead Northern Illinois (2-9) with 18 points, while Keith Gray added 10.
The Huskies have a week off before facing Dec. 29 another set of more formidable Huskies, UConn, on their home floor at Storrs, CN.
Asked if the game indicated any kind of progress with UConn looming, Romar said, “I think we’ve made progress, I really do. It’s hard to tell with so many missed shots tonight. I do, I really believe we’ve made progress from three weeks ago.”