Huskies get defensive in win

SEATTLE - After giving up 51 points in the first half Sunday against South Dakota State, the Washington Huskies put the clamps down on Cal State Northridge, allowing the Matadors 51 total points en route to a 74-51 win at Alaska Airlines Arena Thursday.

A lot of Washington's defensive effort had to do with the re-emergence of center Aziz N'diaye, playing for the first time since he went down with a knee injury just one minute into the second half against Duke on December 10th. Even though N'Diaye didn't start, he certainly made his presence felt the moment he stepped on the court to a loud ovation.

The Matadors (3-7) didn't have much in the way of size to combat the 7-foot junior, who scored 11 points, brought down seven rebounds and blocked two shots in just 16 minutes of action. He played 10 minutes in the first half, and in that time the Huskies out-scored CSUN 18-4.

"With a four-man guard lineup as we start we have great speed, we can outrun them," Washington freshman guard Tony Wroten said after the game.  Wroten finished the night with 12 points and five assists on the night. "At the end of the day you need a big presence underneath the key to block shots and get rebounds.  He was getting a lot of rebounds, blocking a lot of shots.  It just makes it easier on us because in the slight chance we do get beat on defense, he's there to block shots and rebound where we couldn't get them."

"It's probably going to take some time… by next game, I'll be ready," N'Diaye said of his night's work. "This game, I just practiced once or twice before this game. I'll just do a lot of conditioning and getting back, so I think by next week, I'll be fully in shape."

UW also forced a ton of CSUN turnovers and made it such that the Matadors had to create most of their offense with penetration or made shots from distance. CSUN finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2/22. Couple that with 24 percent field goal shooting, and you have the making of an offensive disaster.

The Huskies (6-5) out-rebounded CSUN 44-30, yet no one player had more than eight rebounds. Desmond Simmons, Terrence Ross, and Darnell Gant each pulled down eight, while N'Diaye had seven. Simmons was the most impressive stat-sheet stuffer of the night, leading UW with 13 points, pulling down eight boards, dishing out two assists, and coming up with a team-high three steals.

"(We) tried to force some other guys to do some other things," CSUN Head Coach Bobby Braswell said. "They had some other guys that stepped up and made some plays for them. Desmond [Simmons] tonight was really good. You look at all the way down the line they shot almost 50 percent from the floor so, we got to do a better job. We were able to force them into 20 turnovers, but we just felt like they had too many weapons, too many things. When we did get stops, they got offensive rebounds and we turned it over too much."

By the first media timeout of the South Dakota State loss, Washington had already surrendered 14 points, including two three-pointers. Thursday, UW didn't allow CSUN to get to 14 points until the 6:03 mark of the first half. Those points came via a Stephan Hicks jumper. Hicks led the Matadors in scoring with 13, the only CSUN player in double-digits.

"Well it's good to have Aziz back," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said.  "It was good, we made progress in areas we wanted to make progress in.  I thought especially the first fifteen minutes of that game I thought we played exceptionally well.  If we can duplicate that area, the way we worked, shared the ball, then I think we'll be ok going into conference."

"The first thing we're doing is keeping the ball in front of us," Romar added when asked about the defensive adjustments from Sunday to Thursday night's game.  "There wasn't a whole lot of dribble penetration.  There wasn't a whole lot of guys getting to the rim when we were concentrating and when they did get to the rim our rotations I thought were on point.  I thought we were covering each other, I thought we were seeing the basketball before it got too close to the rim, and we were protecting the basket.  And we were getting back in transition.  They shoot a lot of threes in transition if you're not there and tonight they hardly got any.  0-6 in the fist half from the three point line so they didn't get up very many.  And finally I thought we did a good job of boxing out and rebounding the basketball."


Statistics:
Points: Simmons 13, Wroten 12, Ross 12, N'Diaye 11, Wilcox 9, Gant 5, Gaddy 4, Breunig 4, Stewart 2, Kemp, Jr. 2
Rebounds: Gant 8, Ross 8, Simmons 8, N'Diaye 7, Wilcox 3, Breunig 3, Wroten 2, Wegner 2, TEAM 2, Kemp, Jr. 1
Assists: Gaddy 8, Wroten 5, Simmons 2
Steals: Simmons 3, Wroten 2, Gant 1, Gaddy 1, Ross 1, Stewart 1
Blocks: Kemp, Jr. 3, N'Diaye 2, Breunig 2, Ross 1


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