Nigel Williams-Goss helps Huskies rally to beat Eastern Washington
The Huskies trailed by 12 points in the second half but ran away with a 92-80 victory over Eastern Washington that was more difficult than what the score may indicate
Seattle Times staff reporter
It’s difficult to tell how the Washington men’s basketball team feels about itself before flying to New York this week for a semifinal game against Indiana in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.
On the one hand, the Huskies displayed moxie and resolve Sunday night while erasing a 12-point second-half deficit for a 92-80 win over in-state rival Eastern Washington.
On the other hand, the Huskies wrapped up their three-game homestand with a 2-1 record. They trailed by double digits in each game and they were outscored in three of six halves.
When asked to assess Washington’s performance, coach Lorenzo Romar said: “Inconsistent.”
“When we’ve put forth the effort, we’ve done a decent job,” he said. “When we haven’t, we’ve looked putrid. That’s something you can control — your effort. Our guys recognize that.”
Effort and defense were lacking in the first half against the Eagles, who took a 10-point lead midway into the period and led 48-39 at the break.
There were several tense minutes for the 6,504 at Alaska Airlines Arena, especially when Washington trailed 57-45 and was down 64-53 with 13:22 left.
Staring at their second straight home defeat to a nonconference opponent, the Huskies turned desperate.
They also turned to touted freshman Nigel Williams-Goss, who spearheaded a four-guard lineup that shot down the high-flying Eagles in the final minutes.
Three games into his UW career, the McDonald’s All-American proved why he was a touted high-school recruit.
“Nigel showed tonight why he’s been a part of so many wins in his young career before he got here,” Romar said. “He just had a determined look about him tonight.
“He was so efficient with the basketball. Constantly chattering. Constantly instructing. That’s what a floor general does.”
The Huskies needed his leadership, but they valued his on-court production even more.
Williams-Goss finished with 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting, six rebounds, five assists and three steals in 35 minutes.
Trailing 64-53 with 13:22 left, Williams-Goss took over and scored nine points during Washington’s decisive 22-6 run.
He capped the spurt with a dribble-drive layup over 6-foot-7 Eastern forward Venky Jois despite being fouled. Williams-Goss sank the ensuing free throw, which gave UW a 75-70 lead with 7:38 left.
“As the game went on those lanes became more open,” Williams-Goss said. “Coach Romar preaches to attack, attack, attack, offensively and defensively,”
Washington’s four- and five-guard lineup constantly charged at Eastern’s formidable front line, which resulted in layups or fouls.
The Huskies converted 31 of 34 free throws, which overcame a 1-for-13 shooting display on three-pointers.
Meanwhile, the Eagles managed 11 three-pointers, including seven from Tyler Harvey, who finished with a personal-best 28 points.
However, Eastern (1-1) had no answer for UW’s relentless attack. Four Eagles had at least four fouls, including starting center Martin Seiferth and backup forward Thomas Reuter, who fouled out.
Forward Perris Blackwell, a transfer from San Francisco, had his first double-double (16 points and 11 rebounds) at UW.
However, the story of the game was the Huskies’ small lineup led by Williams-Goss. C.J Wilcox added 15 points, Darin Johnson 12 and Andrew Andrews 11.
Still, it remains to be seen if the Huskies have found a winning formula that they can repeat against stiffer competition.
“I know Eastern is a little different team than Indiana, which is our next opponent,” Romar said. “But this is something hopefully we can build on — that effort.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org