Huskies take a step closer to winning a championship
Terrence Ross scores 32 as Huskies use outside shooting to topple Northwestern, 76-55.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Oregon or Iowa @ Washington, 6 p.m.
Shortly after Terrence Ross scored a career-high 32 points to lead top-seed Washington to a dominating 76-55 victory over No. 7 Northwestern in the second-round of the National Invitation Tournament, Lorenzo Romar unexpectedly grabbed the microphone.
Standing midcourt at Edmundson Pavilion, the UW coach acknowledged the Huskies came short of meeting their goal of making a fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. He also thanked the crowd of 5,761 for their support and asked them for a favor.
"We're still trying to win a championship," he said. "We're not trying to be greedy. We do thank you for coming out, but we'd love for you to come and pack this place on Tuesday night and help us go to New York."
The Huskies (23-11) play their final home game at 6 p.m. Tuesday and will face the winner of the matchup between Oregon (23-9) and Iowa (18-16).
Romar downplayed the potential of facing the Ducks in the NIT quarterfinals for the chance to advance to the semifinals at New York's Madison Square Garden.
However, the Huskies made it clear who they want.
"I want to play Oregon," senior Darnell Gant said. "We owe them."
Washington suffered its most-lopsided defeat — an embarrassing 82-57 shellacking — at Oregon on Feb. 9, which many UW players believe is one of the reasons the selection committee left them out of the Big Dance.
"I want to play Oregon just because they beat us so bad at their place," sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox said. "We have a chance to get them back and show that we're a better team."
The effort Friday night — especially on the defensive end — was one of Washington's finest performances this season.
The Huskies held Northwestern 12 points below its season average, clobbered it on the glass 44-26 and negated the Wildcats' biggest weapon — the three-point shot.
"We did a good job focusing on defending them," Romar said. "We forced them to run the shot clock down and maybe by the end their legs were worn down."
Washington overcame a 24-point outing from NU senior forward John Shurna and held the rest of the team to 31 points on 12-for-39 shooting.
The Huskies attempted a season-high 32 three-point shots, which was two shy of the school record. They made 11.
"At first the three was open (and) they were giving that to us," said Ross, who sank 10 of 21 shots, including 6 of 14 behind the arc. "We started hitting some shots and that opened up the court.
"Once we started penetrating, they started to collapse, and we were able to kick it back out to shooters. When you have to defend us in that many ways it's hard."
Stopping Ross was nearly impossible.
He did a little bit of everything en route to the most points by a UW player since Ryan Appleby scored 32 on Feb. 16, 2008.
When asked how he would stop Ross, Romar joked and said: "I probably would have low bridged him."
Ross flushed two highlight alley-oop dunks and had eight rebounds.
"When Terrence gets it rolling you almost have to send two guys at him to get the ball out of his hands," Romar added. "He can continue to back up because his range is so deep and if you come up too far, then he can finish over the top of you or post you up.
"You have to keep him from getting going, because once he does you have to find some way to take the ball out of his hands."
Ross has never been better, and the same might be said for the Huskies.
"Honestly, we didn't want to be in the NIT," said Wilcox, who finished with 20 points and six rebounds. "We were so disappointed. We felt we should have been in the NCAAs.
"We were like, 'Whatever.' The first game we won, and I think this game knowing we could do some damage and it showed tonight."
Washington trailed 17-9 with 11:56 remaining, but 5 ½ minutes later the Huskies led 32-23 to take control.
"We picked up the pressure," junior guard Abdul Gaddy said. "They started turning the ball over and we flourish in transition. We were finding the open shooters, finding Aziz (N'Diaye) in the middle. We were just making the extra pass and getting our (players) open so they could knock down shots."
The Wildcats struggled with Washington's defensive speed and committed 11 turnovers in the first half that led to 18 points by the Huskies.
Washington led 39-32 at halftime.
The Huskies began the second half with a 13-1 run to pull ahead 52-33 with 15:57 left. They stretched their lead to 58-38 at the 12:07 mark and never trailed by fewer than 18 points the rest of the way.
Freshman Martin Breunig flushed a thunderous dunk with less than three minutes remaining to cap Washington's dominating performance and finish Northwestern's season at 19-14.
At that time many of the starters were on the bench laughing, joking and having fun just as Romar promised when the NIT began.
"We want to win it," Gaddy said. "We're playing with a chip on our shoulder. We want to prove something. We feel that we should have been in the NCAA tournament, but we're not.
"We're just playing the cards that we were dealt. We're going to try to win this whole thing and keep our season going."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @percyallen
Attendance: 5,761. Officials: Eric Curry, Rick Batsell, Glen Mayberry.