UConn True Road Dawgs in Win

SEATTLE - It wasn't quite like the two Sweet 16 battles between Washington and Connecticut, but the result was the same. The visiting No. 10 Huskies used balanced scoring and stifling man-to-man defensive pressure to beat Washington 82-70 Sunday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Senior guard Shabazz Napier scored 20 for UConn (10-1), followed by the 16 of Ryan Boatright and 14 of Lasan Kromah. DeAndre Daniels was the other UConn player in double-digits, scoring 10.

Washington (6-5) was led by the 19 points of C.J. Wilcox, while freshman point guard Darin Johnson scored 13 and junior guard Mike Anderson 10 for the Huskies.

"I think the turnover story was maybe the difference in the game," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "(UConn) have a lot of quickness out front and anticipate well. We didn't do a very good job of taking care of the basketball. I don't think that was just in the second half; the whole game we did that. This has been a reoccurring issue the last four games."

The visiting Huskies turned 16 Washington turnovers into 23 points, as they fought through an opening 12-minute stretch that saw the hometown hoop dawgs roll out to a 31-17 lead with 7:03 remaining to half. By halftime UConn led 43-39.

"We've been up on teams like that before," Wilcox said. "We had the opportunity to keep our foot on 'em but we let that go and came out flat the second half and couldn't really get out of the hole we dug late in the first half."

Connecticut shot 60 percent in the second half to draw away, using the experience and savvy of their two top guards to control the tempo offensively, whether it was driving to create layups or easy dishes to their big men - or through fouls. UConn shot 22-25 from the free throw line.

Defensively the Huskies forced UW into 11 second-half turnovers, which stifled any attempt Washington had at coming back.

"Right now we are not mature enough to handle the runs from the other team, it appears," Romar said, matter-of-factly. "We're not mature enough right now to handle the adversity that comes along throughout your season. Conference season starts pretty quickly, and we're on the road four out of the first six games, so we better grow up really quickly."

Offensively Washington was averaging 81 points per game, but on defense they were surrendering 80. Romar didn't fault his team's effort on the defensive end, but it was more about sustained focus.

"This is crazy - we've gotten better," he said when asked about Washington's play on defense. "But we're just not good for 40 minutes. You go back and watch the film I challenge you…you go back and watch the first 12 minutes of that game and see how we were defensively. It's the same at San Diego State. For long periods we were pretty good defensively but we haven't been able to sustain it. If you ask me what do we have to do to sustain defense I'd tell you we have to grow up and understand the importance of every possession and value of every possession. Right now we don't seem to understand that.

"You can't take a play off here and there because it can lead to a run for the other team."

One of the bright spots for Washington was the return of junior forward Desmond Simmons, who had been out with a knee problem since before the season started. In 12 minutes Simmons had five points, one rebound and one steal - but more importantly he brought some much-needed energy and intensity into UW's attack early in the game.

"It was good to finally get back out there with my teammates and go to war with them," Simmons said post-game. "I try to come in and bring some energy, pick up the intensity. Hopefully that's what it looked like."

"(Simmons) gave us energy right away when he came into the game," added Romar. "When you have surgery like that and you're coming back from a meniscus injury, each week you're much improved. We have another few days before we play again, so he'll be stronger next game. But I thought he came in and gave us energy like we thought he might."
Points: Wilcox 19, Johnson 13, Anderson 10, Andrews 8, Williams-Goss 6, Simmons 5, Kemp 5, Blackwell 4
Rebounds: Anderson 8, Williams-Goss 5, TEAM 4, Wilcox 3, Blackwell 2, Andrews 2, Kemp 2, Simmons 1
Assists: Wilcox 4, Andrews 3, Anderson 2, Johnson 1
Steals: Williams-Goss 2, Wilcox 2, Blackwell 1, Andrews 1, Simmons 1
Blocks: Anderson 2, Johnson 1, Blackwell 1

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