Desperate for any sort of momentum, Washington knocked off Oregon State 72-62 Saturday night, the first win in two weeks and just the second in the Huskies’ last nine games.
The first half, however, was dreadful. Oregon State (13-12, 3-9) led 34-32 lead at the half but the score was not indicative of Washington’s apparent overwhelming desire to be anywhere but on the Hec Ed court. They were unenergetic and sloppy (12 first-half turnovers), losing to an Oregon State team with three conference wins – again. Washington fell in Corvallis 74-66 in January.
But a different Husky team came out for the second half.
After a scoreless first half, Shawn Kemp Jr. scored Washington’s first four points of the half to draw the Huskies even. Kemp finished with 10 points on five of seven shooting.
After receiving criticism all season for not being aggressive enough, Abdul Gaddy unsuccessfully attempted a one-handed put-back slam early in the second half. The ball banged off the back of the rim beyond the three-point line. Had Gaddy completed the flush, he likely would have joined former Huskies teammate Terrence Ross, who won the NBA Dunk Contest Saturday night in Houston on SportsCenter.
It went in the box score as a miss, but may have been Gaddy’s most impressive athletic play in his four years.
“Because of our turnovers, the game was at least for me a very draining game,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. “We never allowed ourselves to pull away. We gave them 19 points in the first half off of turnovers and they scored 34 in the first half.
“Aside from that, I thought that in the second half we really defended, with the exception in transition. They shot 33 percent. They’re a good rebounding team, and we out-rebounded them. It’s a shame that we didn’t take better care of the basketball because that kind of got in the way of what I thought was a much better performance by us.”
If Washington (13-12, 5-7) had played its last nine games as it did the second half, the Huskies would be preparing for the NCAA Tournament, not the NIT.
C.J. Wilcox found his shooting stroke, scoring 24 points on seven of 14 shooting. Wilcox (1,180 career points) moved to 26th on Washington’s all-time scoring list. Wilcox and Kemp were the only two Huskies to finish in double digits.
Washington led the final 17 minutes after a Gaddy jumper put the Huskies in front 38-36. With nine minutes remaining, Oregon State trailed by three but Washington used a 10-4 run to put the game away.