Washington falters, holds on to victory late against Washington State

Celebrating the survival - Jeff Gross

After holding a 19 point lead in the second half, Washington barely hung on to win in their first round game against the Washington State Cougars.

I smiled. That’s how I knew the game meant something to me. Husky basketball hasn’t caused me to smile during a game in a very long time. I missed the C.J. Wilcox deep balls; the Abdul Gaddy dimes were long gone. Scott Suggs used to just stand there and throw some orange thing towards the rim, and it went in over half the time.

Tonight, Washington basketball caused a smile to cross my face. My hands rose into the air when Wilcox rose up for a corner three. The shot missed, but my reaction was clear: I don’t want Washington to stop playing basketball. The team has brought back emotion, the reason I became a fan. Apathy had become a companion, for better or worse, whether I wanted to care or I didn’t want to care, I couldn’t.

This game showed every side of this Husky basketball team. When shots are falling, things go well–as they do for every team. Once the shots were falling for Washington, players moved on offense, the ball found the open man, and Scott Suggs hit every open shot that he saw, and even some shots that weren’t so open. The defense rotated on shooters, and the Washington State Cougars couldn’t find an open shot.

There were less than 15 minutes remaining, and Brock Motum just had a shot rejected by the Senegal-native Aziz N’Diaye. The Washington Huskies held a 19-point lead. Then D.J. Shelton scored on a dunk. Washington responded with an alley-oop to Shawn Kemp Jr. from Gaddy. Things seemed fine from Washington’s view, WSU had to score at some point.

Things then changed. D.J. Shelton scored the game’s next eight points before Suggs was able to answer with a three. He then made another three on the following possession to put Washington up by 15 again. That is when things went truly wrong for UW.

Over the ensuing six and a half minutes, the Cougars scored 15 straight points to tie the game at 62 before Desmond Simmons was able to score on a spinning shot in the lane, which turned out to be the final basket of the contest. Royce Woolridge threw away a pass on the next possession, and Washington had a chance to put the game away.

After winding down the shot clock, Abdul Gaddy hoisted a hopeful dagger three that was off to the left. WSU had 22 seconds to score or take the lead. The ball ended up in Brock Motum’s hands, with Andrew Andrews guarding him on the right wing. Motum was isolated, and Andrews would have little to no help defense.

Despite being deep out on the wing, Andrews stuck into the jersey of the left-handed Aussie, who already had scored 28 points, hitting 5-7 shots from deep. Motum sensed an opportunity to draw a foul being guarded that tightly by the Washington freshman, so he hoisted up a three with no chance of going in, hoping for a foul call. Andrews pulled his hands back in time, a veteran move to not foul, and the whistle didn’t blow as the ball sailed under the rim.

UW nearly Coug’d it, but ultimately were able to pull out the win in order to face the Ducks tomorrow at 8:30 on ESPNU.

Tournament Dots:

· Over the course of this game, Abdul Gaddy established himself as the best player on the floor offensively. I tweeted that he may be the best player on the offensive side of the floor, and our own thecassino responded by telling me that there is no “may be.” He was a stud tonight. Matt Daddy from Addicted to Quack said that it was the best he has seen Gaddy play all season long, and that he had total control of the offense.
He finished with 11 assists, his first time in double digits this season, and most since he had 12 against UCLA late last season. He was 4-10 from the field, but his scoring is not what he was counted on. He was supposed to not embarrass himself defensively, and distribute the ball offensively. He did both, beautifully. He kept the turnovers down to two, putting his assist:turnover ratio at a more-than-acceptable 5.5:1.

· Scott Suggs was very efficient shooting from the field, leading Washington in scoring with 19, on only eight shots from the field. He was hot, and he knew it. He put up shot after shot that fell: deep threes, heavily contested twos; you name a shot, Scott Suggs made it go in. He even was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all of his free throws.

Suggs’ shot selection is questioned at times, but when he is hot, he can carry a team’s scoring load. Suggs has been exactly that for Washington’s past several games, averaging 18 per game during Washington’s recent stretch of four victories in five contests. This all stems from the discussion with Lorenzo Romar before the Arizona game; Suggs has been a different player ever since Romar got into him.

· Washington started the game in a 2-3 zone, probably in an attempt to force outside shots from WashingtonState. Motum scored five points, and Desmond Simmons was brought in to defend Motum, replacing N’Diaye. Simmons defended Motum well for the next several minutes, but eventually the lefty got going again.

Motum has been forced to carry the torch for several bad WashingtonState teams, and has to be respected for the way he carries himself through the obviously difficult times. Regardless, he is a very good basketball player, and one that is fun to watch. He will be missed.

· Jarreau has all the physical tools to be great offensively and at the very least solid defensively. He doesn’t have the strength to be a dominant defender, and probably never will, but still can be a very, very good player.

Right now, he is a solid role player for UW, and that is all Romar needs from him, with three other productive posts. I wanted to spotlight one particular play, that showed his athletic talents, while also his inexperience. Washington had the ball on the left wing, and Jarreau was assigned to defend D.J. Shelton, who was slightly below the free throw line on the right side.

Shelton cut through the lane and curled towards the hoop, receiving the pass as he curled. There, the freshman mistake showed. There was several feet of space between Jarreau and Shelton as Shelton moved through the lane. You cannot allow a free cutter through the lane; at the very least, a cutter has to be bumped, if not outright stood up. Jarreau recognized his man cutting a second late, and Shelton received the pass while curling.

Once Shelton received the pass, Jarreau was already moving into position to defend a layup. He is quick for someone who stands 6-10, and used that quickness to get into position to defend the shot of Shelton, which was ultimately missed, as Jarreau forced him to try a difficult leaner going towards the baseline. It was a play that showed Jarreau’s inexperience and potential defensively all in one play.

Again, Jarreau will never be shutdown just because he will never be that strong, but regardless, he has the tools to be a very good player.

Tomorrow night at 8:30 Washington plays their other rival, the Oregon Ducks on ESPNU. Watch it if you can. Follow along on Twitter if you can’t.

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