Terrence Ross leads Huskies' comeback victory
Washington comes back from late 10-point deficit
Seattle Times staff reporter
USC @ Washington,
8 p.m., ROOT Sports
Would Washington get bored with winning?
Before the game Thursday against UCLA, coach Lorenzo Romar questioned if the Huskies would continue to do the things that allowed them to storm through the first half of the Pac-12 season.
Or would they revert back to their old habits?
When asked the secret to maintaining Washington's winning streak, Romar said: "Not to get bored with success. To understand why we got better and not try to experiment at this point."
Maybe the Huskies were bored during their 71-69 victory over the Bruins when they sleepwalked through the first 34 minutes Thursday.
They trailed by 10 points with 6:02 remaining before Terrence Ross got a "gleam in his eye" and carried Washington on a frantic comeback that appeared improbable early in the second half.
The Huskies finished on a 16-4 run to extend their winning streak to four games against UCLA and eight victories over the Bruins at Edmundson Pavilion.
"We were very, very fortunate to dodge a bullet tonight and come up with a victory," said Romar, coaching his 500th game.
The Huskies improved to 15-7 and 8-2. They took sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 following California's 78-74 loss to Arizona. The Golden Bears (17-6, 7-3), Oregon (16-6, 7-3) and Colorado (15-7, 7-3) are in second place.
Despite a lackadaisical first half by his team, Romar credited the Huskies for coming together in the final minutes.
"Our guys were such a team at the end of that game," Romar said. "That was for me, as a head coach, a very proud moment.
"It's hard when you're playing the way we were playing for the majority of that game to come back and rally up and be a team the way we were. Terrence got the gleam in his eye, that look that forces you to make sure he gets the ball without him saying a word. He came through on the offensive end big time."
In the last meeting of these two teams, C.J. Wilcox scored all of his 24 points in the second half to shoot down UCLA 70-63.
This time, Ross led the way.
He scored 18 of his team-high 22 points in the second half and scored 10 of the Huskies' final 12 points.
When Washington trailed 65-55, Abdul Gaddy went to Ross and told him he was going to lead the Huskies back.
"Down the stretch I told him give us one," Gaddy said. "And he got one. All he needs is one to get going. Once he got one shot down, I felt like it was a wrap. We could go to him every time. All we needed to do was get stops."
Ross drained a long contested jumper before nailing a three-pointer at the 3:59 mark.
Two possessions later, he drove along the right baseline and converted a contorting layup that capped an 11-0 run and put the Huskies up 66-65 with 2:35 left. It was Washington's first lead since early in the first half and 9,756 spectators at the arena roared their approval.
"The second half, everything is on the line and you got to give it everything you have," Ross said. "You have to play like you're not going to play tomorrow."
Ross hit another three-pointer to give the Huskies a 71-67 lead with 1:21 left, but the game wasn't decided until the final shot.
UCLA freshman guard Normal Powell had a chance to push the game into overtime, but his midrange jumper bounced off.
UCLA center Joshua Smith nearly corralled the rebound, but the ball squirted away and time expired.
"The thing about Terrence is, people sleep on his will to win," said Darnell Gant, who had 12 points. "That guy has a will to win. He might be quiet to everybody else, but the things I catch him saying in the locker room and the things he says personally, man that guy has a will to win.
"He hates losing. In the second half, I'm not surprised he did that. He always picks it up in the second half. We always tell him any shot is a good shot, and he just carried us in the end."
Tony Wroten Jr. added 13 points for Washington.
"One of the things we talked to the team about was handling success," Romar said. "It's human nature when things are going well to relax a little bit and we tried to guard against it. We talked about it and talked about it, but we just weren't that fist together.
"The last few minutes we became a team."
Smith nearly spoiled the game for the Huskies.
The former Kentwood High star finished with a personal-best 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting. He also had nine rebounds for UCLA (12-10, 5-5).
"We're playing for a Pac-12 championship and we don't want to look back in the summertime saying what if," Gant said. "What if we played harder that UCLA game and what could have happened.
"We have to take care of business every night. Every game is going to get tougher."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.
Attendance: 9,756. Officials: Tony Padilla, Bobby McRoy, Mike Scyphers.