Cougars lay it on the line to sweep UW

SEATTLE - Lorenzo Romar was right, but he didn't expect his team to turn him into a prophet. On Friday he talked about a balanced Pac-10, and how any team could beat another on any given night. On Sunday he saw it happen, as Washington State beat Washington 80-69, ruining any chances the Huskies could ride a wave of positive play comfortably into the NCAA Tournament.

Washington (19-9, 10-6) scored only 17 first half points, the lowest total ever for a Romar-coached team. They did that despite bringing down 14 offensive rebounds. As they scrapped and clawed their way back after intermission, Washington State (18-10, 8-8) kept their cool and kept making their free throws to eventually pull away for the victory, giving them a season sweep over their cross-state rivals. Overall the Cougars made 32-36 from the charity stripe, demolishing their previous best of 20, made against Santa Clara back before Christmas. They ended up out-scoring UW at the line by 17, the most all year by a UW opponent.

The loss means that the Huskies have to win out against UCLA and USC next week, and then may have to even win the Pac-10 Tournament to have any chance of advancing to post-season play. The winner of the Pac-10 Tournament automatically earns a berth into the tournament.

"It really has not hit me," UW's Justin Holiday said. "I will have to go back and watch."

Romar tried to get his beleaguered team fired up a little at the beginning of the second half. Washington State's DeAngelo Casto was given a basket and a continuation foul against Washington's Aziz N'diaye with 16:54 left in the game. With the partisan crowd booing lustily at the referees for what they perceived to be a bad call, Romar stomped his feet while in a rage, and he earned a technical foul for his efforts.

"Obviously that's not how we scripted it," Romar said after the game.  "I give Washington State a lot of credit.  In the first half, we were standing around way too much.  We had nine turnovers and they had 10.  We weren't making real clean passes and missed shots we should have made.  Washington State played with a lot of aggressiveness.  They came in here and they got it done." 

The Huskies were down by as many as 21 points after a Reggie Moore three-pointer put the visitors up 55-34 with 10:48 left. UW then proceeded to chop down WSU's lead to six after Venoy Overton made one of two free throws with 4:06 remaining. Isaiah Thomas and C.J. Wilcox hit a couple of three pointers, and Overton added another as the home crowd sensed that UW had one final run in them.

But Washington State had been making their free throws all night, and they scored 13 of their last 15 from the line. Casto, Moore and Klay Thompson were the main contributors, as Washington was forced to shoot quick and then foul. With UW missing chance after chance, WSU made their freebies, and were able to create their final 11-point cushion via the stripe. In turn, they snapped Washington's 14-game home winning streak, dating back to the end of last year.

"UW has such a great home court advantage," Washington State Head Coach Ken Bone said.  "When I say that I mean that their home crowd is incredible and their students do a very good job, and to compete in that atmosphere you really need to be locked in and focused.  I thought our guys did exactly that and it translated to good free throw shooting. I feel that our guys continued to play aggressive.  We had a couple of turnovers down the stretch when we were a little on the passive side, but for the most part during that time we aggressively continued to attack."

Thomas led Washington with 21 points, while Matthew Bryan-Amaning had 14, to go with 10 rebounds, and Justin Holiday 11 respectively. WSU's Thompson led all scorers with 26 points, while Casto chipped in 20 and Rainier Beach product Moore tallied 10.

Every time Washington has shot less than 40 percent from the field, they have lost - and Sunday night was no exception. They finished the first half shooting only 22 percent, but 47 percent in the second half. The Cougars kept pace, shooting 46 percent themselves, and they outscored UW the final twenty minutes by four, 56-52.

"We did a great job of coming back but they also made their foul shots," Romar said.  "They did a tremendous job at the line."
Statistics:
Points: Thomas 21, Bryan-Amaning 14, Holiday 11, Overton 8, N'Diaye 6, Wilcox 5, Gant 4
Rebounds: Bryan-Amaning 10, N'Diaye 9, Gant 5, Holiday 4, Wilcox 4, Overton 4, Thomas 3, Ross 3, TEAM 2
Assists: Holiday 5, Thomas 5, Overton 2, Wilcox 1
Steals: Bryan-Amaning 2, Thomas 1, Wilcox 1, Overton 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 1, N'Diaye 1, Thomas 1, Gant 1


(Video courtesy of Kyle McCormick and the UW Athletic Department)


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