Treating the scoreboard like a Christmas list, University of Washington men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar checked and rechecked it Saturday.
The Huskies had beaten woeful Jackson State, 75-67, it was right there in enormous numbers on the new jumbo screen looming over midcourt at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Yet, the game, and postgame, had all the delight of a toe-stubbing contest, causing Romar to look several times.
“We won,” Romar said.
That was about the only positive. Even Romar, eternally with his glass at least half-full, said there was little joy to take from the win.
That’s because Jackson State is 0-8. Washington upped its record to 6-4 by beating the Tigers, who are on a road trip for the ages. Jackson State plays its first 11 games away from home. It had just come over from Pullman, where the Cougars beat the Tigers, 52-41, on Thursday.
Early, it appeared Saturday’s result would be indicative of the Tigers’ ineffective team and Washington’s recent uptick in ambition shown against Seattle University.
The Huskies used a 14-0 spurt to zip out to a 27-11 lead with 9 minutes, 26 seconds left in the first half. But, sloppiness followed.
Washington turned the ball over five times in a 3:20 span. Four of the turnovers were by point guard Abdul Gaddy. Jackson State, which started the game 1-for-9 from the field and shot 22.8 percent against Washington State on Thursday, went on a 20-6 run, forcing Romar to call a time out. The Huskies led 33-31 with 3:36 left in the first half, and were up at halftime, 40-34.
The Tigers continued to hack away at their deficit in the second half. They were down 70-67 with 5:24 left in the game before a Desmond Simmons jumper from the elbow of the lane and a C.J. Wilcox jumper 2:13 later gave Washington a 74-67 lead. The Huskies hung on from there.
Wilcox again led UW with 21 points. He was 5-for-13 at halftime, and said afterward he was still worn down from the game against Seattle U., despite the team not practicing Friday.
Gaddy had 12 points, four rebounds, four assists – and the four turnovers that resurrected Jackson State during that one stretch in the first half.
Scott Suggs scored 17 points and is averaging 20 a game since returning three games ago from a plantar fasciitis injury.
A crowd of 7,836, reduced in large part because of a shrunken student section resulting from the holiday break at school, watched UW slog to the win. It was the opposite of what the Huskies showed against Seattle just two days prior.
“You’re on a high the other night, forget the score, forget the win, you’re on a high because your team played with a lot of pride,” Romar said. “Then you feel good about things the first 10 minutes because we continued to do that, I thought, then, all of a sudden, there it went.”
He left the team with one message: practice is Monday. There was little else to firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas