FROM EUGENE -- If Washington guard C.J. Wilcox looked a step slow tonight, there was a reason.
Wilcox hurt his tailbone after he took a hard fall early in the game, coach Lorenzo Romar said, and that's why Romar took him out for an extended period in the first half.
"I think it affected him in the second half early," Romar said. "C.J.’s so quick, so athletic, and there were a couple times he just moved slowly and couldn’t get there and they scored baskets, and that’s why we took him out early, because I wasn’t sure he could go on, and he said 'no, I think I can finish.'"
He did finish, and played 34 minutes. But he scored only nine points on 2-for-8 shooting, and was 1-for-4 from 3-point range.
Oregon guard Jason Calliste defended him most of the game.
"There’s opportunities there," Romar said. "He’s such a team guy he doesn’t want to force it. (It's about) just being more aggressive."
Perris Blackwell told Romar he wanted to come off the bench. So he did.
Blackwell, UW's senior forward, had started 25 consecutive games before Wednesday night. Shawn Kemp Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup, but played only seven minutes after accumulating two early fouls.
Blackwell led the Huskies with 17 points in 33 minutes. He said he was just trying to provide a spark.
"I had been feeling that way for a little while," he said. "I just felt like I need to go tell coach, so that’s what I did."
One of the game's turning points might have been the charging call against Nigel Williams-Goss with 5:50 to play. UW's freshman point guard attacked the rim in transition, and went up for a shot attempt as Oregon guard Johnathan Loyd slid underneath him.
Williams-Goss made the basket, and from press row, it appeared to be an obvious blocking foul against Loyd. But it was whistled a charge, and instead of cutting UO's lead to 71-67 with Williams-Goss at the free-throw line, the Ducks maintained a six-point margin.
"I thought that was a big, big play in the game. Big play," Romar said. "It appeared to me it was called the way they had been called in years past. This year with the rules adjustment on the block-charge, I just thought it might have been a block based on how the game was called earlier and how that one went. It was a judgment call, and that’s what it is. Those aren’t easy calls to make. That was just what I saw."
Some additional quotes from Romar ...
(On figuring out the road) “We have one to go, and then we’re playing all neutral-site games after that. So we have another opportunity. But again, if we can come with the same focus, like I said earlier, I feel a lot better about us going on the road.”
(On making progress on the road) “Tonight we made progress, there’s no doubt. We definitely made progress tonight. We have to take this, remember it and have the same focus when we go to Corvallis the next game.”
(Did Oregon’s defense have you out of sync?) “I thought we were a little more out of sync when we played them at home last time. Even though we won the game, there were periods in that game we were a little out of sync based on their changing defenses. Tonight I thought, again, I don’t think our turnovers were as a result of their double teams and presses. There were some close calls at times but I still thought for the most part we came out and ran good offense. I thought our shot selection was good. We just weren’t able to make some plays.”
(Offensively or defensively?) “Both. There were a couple missed assignments on the defensive end as well, but offensively we had some golden opportunities we didn’t capitalize on.”
(On if he thought they were better at overcoming adversity this time) “I really did. We turned it over a couple of times early, missed a couple of defensive assignments and they got up right away. But our guys weathered the storm, unlike some other games that we’ve played on the road where we just kind of faded. I didn’t think we faded tonight. I think, again, we were a few plays away from getting over the hump, but we didn’t.”
(Opening statement) “Oregon as we knew is an explosive offensive team and I think they showed that in the second half where they got in a rhythm. They hurt us with the ball screen. We did a good job against it in the first half. Second half, they hurt us. We began to double it, slowed it down a little bit. We had a lot of opportunities to make plays down the stretch and we didn’t. I thought down the stretch, that was the difference in the game.”
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple