Beach's Bits – Oregon State

With most of Husky Nation busy watching the Washington football team take on Baylor in the Alamo Bowl or on Christmas break, the basketball team gave their most convincing performance of the season Thursday. The Huskies did what they've been expected to do all season long – dominate a quality opponent – in beating Oregon State 95-80.

They won by playing committed, energetic defense, sharing the ball and being patient on offense. They let the game come to them, and they took advantage of OSU's mistakes. In short - they looked like what a Washington basketball team is supposed to look like.

During non-conference play, the Beavers raced to their best start in over two decades with a record of 10-2, including an overtime win over Texas. They are tall and athletic, and feature the conference's most dynamic athlete in Jared Cunningham. With Washington, UCLA and Arizona all struggling, the Beavers climbed to the top of many late-December Pac-12 Conference projections. Washington erased OSU's delusions of grandeur in short order.

"They are a dangerous offensive team, Oregon State," said UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar after the victory. "There is nobody that they put on the court that can't do something offensively. So I commend our guys because we were able to come out and persevere here."

In stark contrast to their performances over the previous month and a half, Washington came prepare to play from the opening tip. They were on a mission. Racing to an early 10-2 lead, the Huskies' early play was some of the most inspired all season.

The Huskies won because of their team play. They turned the ball over just nine times while distributing 15 assists, grabbed five steals and dominated the Beavers on the offensive glass. They did this all while two of their main scoring threats – C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross – went a combined 8-24 on the night.

"Defense has been a big focus that we've had the past couple of weeks," said Wilcox. "If we don't perform on the defensive end, we won't get wins. That's our main focus and we came out and did the right thing tonight."

And they did it with their freshmen leading the way. Two players in particular stood out, doing most of their damage in the half court offense rather than transition. Tony Wroten and redshirt frosh Desmond Simmons set the tone for the Dawgs all game with their aggressiveness and scrappy play under the basket. The Husky guards attacked the rim fearlessly, with Wroten leading the charge.

The freshman from Garfield nearly netted a double-double with 26 points and nine rebounds while also dishing out four assists. It was his most complete game – his smartest game – to date. He dished his trademark flashy passes, but only when the play called for it. He was under control for all but a couple of key moments, while holding speedy Oregon State point guard Ahmad Starks to 5-15 shooting from the floor.

Simmons was similarly effective, though he did it in different ways. "Simmons I thought had a great game, brought us energy off the bench" said Romar regarding his frosh forward. The 6-foot-7 Vallejo, Calif. native displayed his typical junkyard behavior as he scratched and clawed his way to four rebounds on the offensive glass, tallying eight total boards on the night. Simmons was also effective shooting the ball, and his confidence in his mid-long range jump shot continues to grow. He connected on 5-9 shots, including a three pointer.

But this win – arguably the best of the season so far - was a total team effort. Wroten and Simmons just happened to spearhead the charge this particular night. Point guard Abdul Gaddy had one of his best outings of the season. The junior from Tacoma was the aggressor early, attacking the rim en route to 13 points and six assists against just two turnovers. He forced contact around the basket as he slipped through the paint to deliver runners over the outstretched arms of OSU's front court.

Wilcox was active with the ball in his hands too. With Cunningham draped all over him and limiting his three-point attempts, the man from Pleasant Grove, Utah put the ball on the floor and attacked the hoop, scoring 15 points and gathering four rebounds. Wilcox was one of six Husky players to score in double figures – another reflection of Washington's total team play.

"They played a great game," shared Oregon State head Coach Craig Robinson afterward. "They got to the basket whenever they wanted to, and they are probably the first team to do that to us on a consistent basis."

The win gives the Huskies a huge confidence boost when they needed it badly. After an unfortunate start to the year, Washington not only needed a win, but they needed to win convincingly – and they did.

It was about time, and it happened just in time.


Dawgman.com Top Stories