UCLA wins (USA TODAY Sports)
SEATTLE - Amidst a chorus of boos, the No. 23 UCLA Bruins defeated Washington 61-54 Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena, breaking an eight-game road losing skid to the Huskies on Senior Day. As Scott Suggs, Abdul Gaddy and Aziz N'Diaye played their last home games, it was freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams that stole the show for the Bruins.
Muhammad scored 21 and Adams 17 for the Bruins (23-8, 13-5), while Travis Wear was the other UCLA player to score in double-figures with 10 points.
Suggs led Washington (17-14, 9-9) with 14 points, and Shawn Kemp, Jr. totaled 10 points, but the Huskies suffered from 19 turnovers which led to 29 points.
"I don’t have a lot to say," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said post-game. "It was pretty obvious to our team and me where the difference in that game was. UCLA did a great job of forcing us into 19 turnovers, which they converted into 29 points. They scored 61, so that’s right at half of their points. It’s similar to what happened at their place. That was the difference in the game right there, along with their two freshmen bookending the second half, Jordan Adams in the beginning and Shabazz Muhammad taking over after that. It was a tag team effort from those two offensively."
The Huskies only had seven turnovers at the half where they led 31-30. But four turnovers in the first 3:24 led to a 9-2 run to start the second half. Muhammad and Adams scored all the points during that run.
Washington was able to regain their composure behind the shooting of Suggs and freshman guard Andrew Andrews to tie the game at 45 with just under nine minutes remaining. A Gaddy layup three minutes later gave the Huskies their largest lead of the half at 52-48.
But UCLA held the Huskies to only two points the remainder of the game, while Muhammad and Adams were not to be denied on the offensive end. They scored 10 of UCLA's last 13 points but it was Larry Drew's blow-by layup with 33 seconds left against Suggs that gave the Bruins the cushion they needed to kill the game off.
"Great win for our team today after the disappointment of losing Wednesday on the road," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said. "To come in here and win for the first time in nine years, people ask why is it so hard? They’re really good, they’re always really good, Lorenzo does a terrific job. To go through all the adversity we’ve gone through this season, to be able to win it here is really special. To beat a really good team on their home floor is difficult to do, and that was done today. They are a very good team, they’re a team that no one wants to face coming up in this tournament.
"I was proud of our guys, the way we came out to start that second half, we had three or four shots in a row. Larry Drew’s layup there late in the game was huge. I thought Shabazz was great today. Shabazz is the player of the year in the conference. This win hopefully hammers that home. He was phenomenal. I thought the team did well and everyone contributed. To win it the way we did is very gratifying."
The Huskies had a chance to finish their roller-coaster season on a four-game winning-streak - the same way they started league play - but it was not to be on Senior Day, a day where they finished their 2012-2013 regular season campaign winless in six tries against ranked teams. Despite losing for only the third time in 11 Senior Day games during the Romar era, the UW Head Coach continued to remain confident that his team has what it takes to win the Pac-12 Tournament next week, their only way into the NCAA Tournament.
"I think we know we played right...we didn't take care of the basketball," Romar said. "I think our guys understand we took a step back in taking care of the ball, but if we take care of that we're back to where we were the last three games."
"I don’t think this game will affect our confidence at all because last night we pretty much knew everyone’s seeding in the Pac-12," added N'Diaye. "We’re just going to watch a lot of film and look at the tournament as a new season. We’re going to go in with that mindset taking it one game at a time."
Depending on the outcome of the USC-WSU game later Saturday, Washington could be seeded 6th all the way through 9th.
Points: Suggs 14, Kemp 10, Gaddy 8, Wilcox 8, Andrews 7, N'Diaye 5, Jarreau 2
Rebounds: Simmons 11, N'Diaye 10, Gaddy 4, Andrews 3, Jarreau 3, Kemp 2, Wilcox 1
Assists: Gaddy 4, Wilcox 4, Suggs 1, Kemp 1, Andrews 1, Simmons 1
Steals: Jarreau 2, Suggs 1, Andrews 1, Simmons 1
Blocks: N'Diaye 2, Kemp 2, Wilcox 1, Simmons 1