Thursday was a mostly calm night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The Washington Huskies rolled to a largely suspense-free 75-62 victory over Cal Poly before a subdued crowd of 7,874.
Every now and then, though, UW coach Lorenzo Romar sprang to his feet. Invariably, those were the moments when his Huskies gave the kind of effort he has been demanding.
“Anytime there was some hustle I got excited,” Romar said. “I think our team identity would be better served if that’s what makes us exciting. Plays that win ballgames and make you the best that you can be are those hustle plays.”
And if Romar didn’t quite get a full 40 minutes from his team, he seemed encouraged that his players are getting closer.
“I think with the exception of the last three minutes it was our best defense effort of the year in terms of concentration and focus,” he said. “(Cal Poly) is a team that makes the game slower. They’re very deliberate. If you’re impatient they can wear you down mentally. I thought our guys did a great job of not allowing that to happen.”
It helped that Washington (7-4) was close to full strength with the return of guard Andrew Andrews, who had missed three games because of a sprained right ankle.
Four Huskies scored in double figures, and three had at least six rebounds. C.J. Wilcox led Washington with 21 points, and he contributed across the stat sheet with six rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots and two steals.
“I just want to come into the game and do a little bit more – help on the boards,” Wilcox said. “Coach is always on us about helping those big guys out.”
Physical effort and mental discipline helped Washington force 12 turnovers from Cal Poly (4-6), which had come into the game averaging nine turnovers a game – best in NCAA Division I.
“The main thing was keep those guys in front, get as many deflections as possible, make it tough for them to score, but not extend ourselves,” UW guard Abdul Gaddy said. “And they were really coughing it up themselves. We were just in the right positions at the right time.”
The Huskies came out sputtering with four turnovers in four minutes. But once they started taking care of the ball, they rode a 9-0 run to an 11-2 lead.
The Mustangs answered with a run of their own to pull even at 16-16. UW took over from there, sprinting to a 31-23 halftime advantage.
The Huskies kept a comfortable lead for most of the second half, which included a stretch when they held Cal Poly scoreless for almost seven minutes and built a 47-33 lead.
“The baskets that really drained us came from their offensive boards,” said Cal Poly coach Joe Callero, the Enumclaw native who previously coached at Seattle University and the University of Puget Sound. “You look at some of the other stats, certainly we would like to shoot better than 44 percent – they shot 51 percent. Forty-four (or) 45 (percent) can probably keep us competitive in a game, but you got to get those stops so you have those extra possessions.”
It was the third straight win for Washington, which has two games remaining before the start of Pacific-12 Conference play.
“You take the Seattle U. game, you take the first 12 minutes of Jackson State, now you take this game,” Romar said. “Now there’s a pattern going the other way, the positive way.”Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @donruiztnt