Faced with a Montana team Tuesday night at Hec Ed that scorched Washington with 71 percent shooting in the first half, the Huskies had no alternative but to let their own premier shootist, C.J. Wilcox, take over the game to avert another embarrassing home loss. Wilcox had 28 points as UW went down to the wire before prevailing 83-79 over the Grizzlies.
The Huskies, who switched in practice this week to a different defense that relies more on interior pressure and less on the wings, couldn’t stop anyone, anywhere as the Big Sky Conference visitors went up 42-36 at the half by hitting 9 of 15 threes.
But a huge advantage in rebounds (34-14) and free throws (24-for-31 to 6-for-13) helped close the gap. Then Wilcox hit a pair of three that put Washington ahead for good midway through the second half.
With 11.2 seconds left, Montana’s Chris Kemp hit a jumper over Perris Blackwell, who fouled. But Kemp’s free throw failed to drop, leaving Montana down 80-79. The Huskies rebounded, and Wilcox hit a pair from the line with 8.5 seconds remaining.
Coach Lorenzo Romar broke his own rule when he ordered a foul late when up by three. Keron Deshields made him look good by missing the one-and-one attempt. The Huskies rebounded and Blackwell added the final point from the line.
Guard Nigel Williams-Goss finished with 20 points, two shy of his career high, as the Huskies improved to 3-3 after two big losses in New York City. Montana (1-3) was led by 27 from Jordan Gregory. Deshields had 20.
The Huskies play Long Beach State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.