Huskies get payback in the desert

TUCSON - Freshman Tony Wroten blocked his frosh counterpart, Arizona guard Josiah Turner, as he was going to the basket, preserving a hard-fought 69-67 win for the Huskies in a sold-out, raucous McKale Center. The win gave UW the Pac-12 conference lead with a 7-2 record, as well as their first sweep of the desert schools in six years.

In front of a national television audience, not to mention the ESPN Game Day crew, the Huskies used some strong shooting to move up to a 60-49 lead with 5:44 remaining on five-straight points by Terrence Ross.

But it was Wroten who scored 11 second-half points to help get Washington to that point, three of those coming off a ridiculous 30-point desperation three-pointer as the shot clock was dying down. And on Arizona's next possession, Wroten was able to draw a charge. Momentum seemed to be on the Huskies' side, and the 'Cats had no answer, except for Solomon Hill. It was as if the Huskies' black jerseys had put a dark pall over the McKale Center 'Whiteout'.

"I got in foul trouble in the first half and I was trying to be myself and out help out the team," Wroten said.  "Coach Romar was saying I got to be aggressive if we're going to win and I still was trying to get C.J. and Terrence the ball because I was trying to help my team win.  I didn't have a great game, but that doesn't matter because we got the win."

Up 10 points with 2:44 left in the game, Washington (14-7, 6-2) eased their foot off the gas, allowing Arizona (14-8, 5-4) to crawl back in with their hustle on the offensive end and a career night by Hill. The junior forward scored 28 points, including 11 points after the Huskies pushed their advantage to double-digits.

Hill buried a three-pointer with nine seconds to go, and then Turner tried to draw a charge against the Huskies' C.J. Wilcox on the ensuing possession with 5.3 seconds left in front of the Arizona bench and UA Head Coach Sean Miller. The officiating crew called a block, and Wilcox - the Pac-12's leading free throw shooter - hit two clutch shots from the stripe to give Washington their final margin of victory. They only shot 7-16 from the line, but those two were as big as any scored all year.

"I was trying to attack his hip and it worked," Wilcox said after the game.  "I was trying to get the ball up the court as fast as I could and he cut me off and I got the call."

The 'Cats had one more trip down the court to pull off the improbable comeback. Turner pushed the ball up the court, used a screen to wiggle free of his defender, and appeared to have a clean look at a layup from the right side of the floor. But Wroten, who led the Huskies with 17 points, made the biggest play of the game.

Last year it was former Arizona All-American Derrick Williams who blocked Washington's Darnell Gant to preserve an Arizona win in Tuscon. This time it was the best player on the floor again - Wroten - who flew in from the top of the key, swatted the ball off the backboard, and the game clock flashed red on the backboard before the 'Cats were able to slam the ball through to take the game to overtime.

"I've never won a game with a game-winning block," Wroten said after the game. "Most of my winning plays are on offense. This is definitely a classic. I will remember this forever. I will tell my kids about this one."

"As soon as Tony got the block and I saw the red light, I thought, `Same exact thing (as last year),'" said Ross. "It's karma in our favor this time."

Ross scored 16 points, including a dagger two with 53 seconds left that was inches away from being a three-point shot. Wilcox added a much-needed 15 points in 26 minutes of play, and center Aziz N'diaye scored 12 points.

Jesse Perry was the only other Arizona player besides Hill in double-figures with 13 points.

Washington, who moved out to a hot 14-7 start by the first media intermission, out-rebounded the Wildcats 39-36, and 18-12 on the offensive end. N'Diaye and Wroten combined for nine offensive rebound, and Washington out-scored Arizona 17-8 on second-chance opportunities.

But the Huskies almost let this game slip out of the fingertips via the foul line. Arizona shot 13 more free throws than UW, and made 14 more. Washington put the 'Cats in the bonus with 11:21 remaining in the second half, and UA scored 12 points from the charity stripe, compared to UW, who was 3-8 coming down the stretch.

"This would have been a 15-20 point loss earlier in the year," Romar said. "But this team has grown up. "I couldn't be more proud of our guys as they say they just manned up and gave a physical brand of basketball and did what it took to win on the road in a high ceilings environment in our face."

And now they have the Pac-12 Conference lead.


Statistics:
Points: Wroten 17, Ross 16, Wilcox 15, N'Diaye 12, Simmons 3, Gaddy 2, Seferian-Jenkins 2, Gant 2
Rebounds: N'Diaye 8, Ross 7, Wroten 5, Wilcox 5, Simmons 4, Gant 4, Seferian-Jenkins 3, TEAM 3
Assists: Gaddy 5, Wroten 4, Ross 2, Wilcox 2, Simmons 1
Steals: Ross 3, Wroten 1, Simmons 1
Blocks: Ross 3, Wroten 1


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