C.J. Wilcox scored 27 points and made the key shots in the waning moments as the Washington Huskies closed with a 7-2 runto defeat the Stanford Cardinal Saturday night in Palo Alto 65-60. Washington (11-5, 3-0) is 3-0 in Pac-12 play and has won three consecutive conference road games to open a season for the first time since 1912.
After giving Washington a 63-60 lead with a free throw with less than a minute to go, Wilcox drove for a layup following a Stanford miss with 6.1 seconds left to seal Washington’s 11th victory of the season. He scored UW’s final five points.
“Coach (Lorenzo Romar) just told me to be more aggressive,” said Wilcox, who added a career-high nine rebounds and two blocks. “I got a lot of help from my teammates and in the second half we buckled down and got it done.”
Washington had a 36-25 lead heading into the final 20 minutes of a game that ultimately featured 15 lead changes and 10 ties. The Huskies maintained an advantage ranging from two to four points for the first 10 minutes of the second half before pulling out to a 52-44 lead with 9:52 left after Wilcox drained one of his four 3-pointers. That marked Washington’s largest lead of the game.
But a 6-0 run by the Cardinal brought Stanford within 52-50 with 7:55 remaining. The game was tied for the final time at 58-58, at which point Aziz N’Diaye, a 44 percent foul shooter, hit two free throws to give UW a 60-58 lead. UW went up 62-58 with 1:41 to play on a Wilcox foul shot, and the game came down to a Stanford possession with a minute to play and the Cardinal trailing 62-60.
Wilcox rebounded a Dwight Powell miss, was fouled and hit one of two free throws for a 63-60 Washington lead. Wilcox then snatched another rebound and drove the lane for the clinching points.
“Our guys did a phenomenal job,” Romar said. “We could have easily folded in the second half. But we handled the last part of this game in remarkable fashion. This has always been a tough place for us to get a win. A lot of different guys down the stretch stepped up for us.”
Washington, which joined Oregon, Arizona State an UCLA among the conference unbeatens, has won nine of its past 11 games. The key to beating Stanford was a 25-17 edge in rebounding in the second half and holding the Cardinal to just 26 percent field goal shooting over that span.
“The defensive job our guys did was great,” said Romar. “Just a collective effort down the stretch. Our guys just banded together as a team and played great team defense. I don’t know if anyone realizes how tough of a game this was to win. We fought all the way through and grinded this one out. I think this road trip has given us tremendous confidence in ourselves and in our system. I think our guys have really bought into what we’re trying to do, and this bodes really well for future games.”
Of Wilcox’s 27-point performance, Romar said, “C.J. was very good. When he’s on like this you just keep feeding him.”
N’Diaye followed Wilcox with 14 points and Desmond Simmons scored seven. But Simmons’ principal contribution was his defensive work on Powell, Stanford’s leading scorer, who finished with 19.
Washington returns to Alaska Airlines Arena Wednesday to face the University of Colorado, then Saturday against the University of Utah.