SEATTLE - Dawgman.com's Kyle McCormick was on hand at Alaska Airlines Arena to capture a ferocious…
Ross' 30 pushes Cougars back to Palouse
"I think sometimes you just have to defend your team. I think sometimes the officials are upset at you for defending your team, then that's just kind of the way you are. Sometimes you have to defend your team when they're out there scrapping and playing hard, trying to play right."
Washington (11-6, 4-1) was down by as many as 11 points in the first half in the 273rd meeting of the two in-state teams, but when Romar picked up his technical foul at the 12:16 mark of the second half remonstrating furiously against a late foul called against Ross, it ignited a monster run.
From that point on, the Huskies outscored Washington State (9-8, 1-4) 38-16.
"That's a win - we've had some big wins in this building and some big games - but that's going to be a win I won't forget because of the way we went about our business," Romar said. "It wasn't until we turned it up on the defensive end that we were able to get excited on the offensive end and knock shots down and play with a little more confidence."
With freshman guard Tony Wroten manning the middle of Washington's offense, he played aggressor and distributor, eventually coming up with 13 points and four assists. Wroten's pass to Darnell Gant for a dunk with 8:47 remaining was the first of back-to-back jams from the senior forward that gave Washington only their second lead of the game - their first coming with the opening basket of the game.
"If (Wroten) catches it in the middle, he's a problem driving to the basket," said UW guard Abdul Gaddy. "He got to the free throw line so many times once we got it to him in the middle - he's so aggressive. And it also got their bigs in foul trouble - Motum and Lodwick - he attacking the basket. So that opens it up and they don't want to be as physical anymore."
Fueled by Romar's T and Wroten's move to the middle, the Gant dunks capped off a 15-2 run where the arena was as loud as it has been in quite a while.
"I've never played in an atmosphere like that," said Wroten, who admitted he was still very sore with a bruised tailbone suffered during the Seattle win January 10th. "I've played close, especially when we were coming back and we got the lead - it was loud. You couldn't hear yourself, you couldn't talk to your teammates. It was a crazy atmosphere and shows what our crowd is capable of when we do great things."
After that, it was the Terrence Ross show. The sophomore from Portland, who was 1-9 from the field in the first half - including 1-5 from deep - came out firing with a vengeance. He scored 14 of the Huskies' final 23 points on the night, the highlights coming on a turnaround three, which he followed up with an alley-oop jam off a feed from Gaddy with WSU's Marcus Capers draped all over him.
"That's the first time this year I've heard our crowd like that," Romar said. "When our crowd is like that, it's an unbelievable feeling for our guys. They get so motivated; they feed off of it so much. When the crowd really got into it, it really helped. When you can't hear the whistle blow, you know it's pretty loud in here."
It wasn't like the Cougars weren't trying to slow Ross down; he just began to hit shots like a man possessed. And sensing their teammate was in the zone, they fed him the ball. Ross took care of the rest.
"When the opportunities came, I really tried to assert myself on the offensive end," Ross said. "I just played my hardest, stayed focused, and really tried to give it my all."
By the time he was done scoring with 2:06 left in the game, Ross had helped the Huskies go from 10 down with 14 minutes left to 15 points to the good with no time for Washington State to mount a comeback. He also was a towering presence on defense, racking up a team season-high and career-high 14 rebounds, part of an overwhelming UW advantage on the glass, 46-24. They also only gave the ball over two times the final 20 minutes, forcing four WSU miscues of their own.
"Terrence is capable of that," said Gaddy. "Any game it can happen; some games he can have off nights. He didn't even start off well, but all of a sudden he got going. And he's difficult to stop when he gets going, whether you're guarding him close, or everything.
"He's a freak athlete. I'm not surprised when he does it. It's a crazy thing like that, but that's how gifted he is."
Wroten and Gant added 13 points for the Huskies, while Aziz N'diaye chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds. Gant also added eight boards.
It really felt like a tale of two halves for the young pups; with sophomore sharpshooter C.J. Wilcox out with a hip injury, Washington looked unsure and devoid of confidence during the Romar told the media after the game that Wilcox has a stress fracture and has already been ruled out of next week's homestand with California and Stanford.
"He gives us a spark, energy, everything," Ross said of Wilcox. "I think everybody had to contribute a big piece to make up for C.J.'s absence."
During that same period, Washington State seemingly couldn't miss; starting with a Brock Motum three, the Cougars kept firing and eventually ran out to a 31-20 lead with 4:36 remaining in the half. Washington was getting good looks, but they couldn't get the shots to fall. For the half they finished 9-31 from the field (29 percent) and 3-13 from three-point land (23 percent).
Faisal Aden came off the bench to keep WSU's offensive flame alive, scoring 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half. Motum added 17, and freshman guard DaVonte Lacy had 10 for the Cougars.
Washington State led at half 31-25. But Ross' runner just a minute and 14 seconds into the second half signaled a change in UW's fortunes. But it wasn't until the Huskies were down 10 and Romar erupted did the home team's fortunes completely turn around.
"It seemed like the refs were against us tonight," said Gant. "And when we face adversity like that I had to get my guys together and rally them up and tell them it's 8 against 5 right now, so we've got to do whatever we've got to do to get back into this game and get the win."
"It was a great, great victory for our team tonight," Romar added. "Obviously Terrence Ross was great, but Darnell Gant showed great leadership - knocking shots down, rebounding, defending, leading - he did a phenomenal job that way."
Points: Ross 30, Wroten 13, Gant 13, N'Diaye 12, Gaddy 5, Simmons 2
Rebounds: Ross 14, N'Diaye 8, Gant 8, Simmons 7, Gaddy 4, Wroten 3, TEAM 2
Assists: Gaddy 6, Wroten 4, Ross 2, Stewart 1, Gant 1
Steals: Wroten 2, Ross 2, Gant 1
Blocks: N'Diaye 1, Wroten 1
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