Lorenzo Romar (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)
SEATTLE - Washington had to overcome injuries to Desmond Simmons, Perris Blackwell, and Jernard Jarreau to defeat the cross-town Seattle Redhawks 88-78 for their first win of the 2013-2014 season Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena. The Huskies (1-0) were led by the 22 points of C.J. Wilcox, while Andrew Andrews added 21 points and freshman guard Darin Johnson 16.
Simmons has been out since the beginning of the season with a slight knee issue, and Blackwell - a senior transfer from the University of San Francisco - was held out after suffering a concussion in Wednesday night's exhibition win.
Less than two minutes into the game, Jarreau suffered a right knee injury with an MRI scheduled for Monday after crashing to the floor trying to go up for a layin against the Redhawks' Isiah Umipig.
After that it was up to Shawn Kemp and Gilles Dierickx - the only two available big men - to shoulder the load. Kemp played 30 minutes and scored 10 points and came up with three rebounds.
"We told our team that people will see the score of this game and probably not think twice about it and not know what happened in the game," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Down the road people will see we won this game…I don't think people understand how big a win this was for us and how gutsy and how much of a character win this was, maybe as good as…we've had big wins on the big stage in the past and come through, but in terms of pulling a game out when the chips were really down and our guys never got down on themselves or frustrated - this is one of the more special wins for me as a head coach since I've been here."
With the three bigs out of the game, the Redhawks pounced early behind the lead of Cal-State Fullerton transfer guard Isiah Umipig, who unloaded for 15 first-half points, including three three-point shots. One of those three-pointers, with 6:15 left to intermission, gave Seattle a 28-18 lead.
The Huskies clawed back, mostly with a four-guard lineup and Wilcox at one of the forward spots. Behind the energy and defensive effort of juco transfer Mike Anderson - who ended up effectively limiting Umipig's output in the second half, UW found a second gear and rode the hot shooting of Wilcox, Andrews and Johnson to a 9-0 finishing run and a 42-33 halftime advantage.
"(The run) started with Mike pressuring the ball and got stops when we needed them," Andrews said. "Romar's been preaching to us that runs always start on the defensive end and they carry over to offense - so that was a big part. We were getting stop and then we started making our shots."
From that point on it was simply a matter of continuing to adjust on the fly to what the Huskies could do with their limited numbers, keep up the energy on the defensive end, and make their free throws. Seattle committed 18 second-half fouls, and Washington was able to convert those fouls into 24 made free throws.
"I think we shot 80 percent from the line," Romar said. "Before the game we told the team, if we can make our foul shots we may be able to get 30 points from the line - and we did. That was huge in this game."
While Wilcox, Andrews and Johnson were converting their chances on the offensive end, it was Andrews that catalyzed the Huskies defensively, coming up with a team-high eight rebounds, as well as three assists.
"With me, it's like proving (people) wrong," Anderson said of his play. "A lot of people didn't think I could play at this level, so I'm just proving everybody wrong. I just play with a lot of heart. That's what I do."
"We knew Mike was scrappy," Romar said of Anderson. "We knew Mike was versatile. In the last week and a half we've noticed that as he's picked up our defensive system that he's pretty good - maybe our best defensive guard. He showed up in the game."
Blackwell's status?: Romar said after the game that he thought Perris Blackwell's chances of playing this coming Thursday against UC-Irvine are 'pretty high'. "Scott Suggs last year against Albany suffered a concussion in the first two minutes of the game and four days later he played against Seton Hall," he added. "We were hoping that that would happen (for Perris), but it didn't happen."
Points: Wilcox 22, Andrews 21, Johnson 16, Anderson 12, Kemp 10, Williams-Goss 6, Jarreau 1
Rebounds: Anderson 8, Wilcox 7, Johnson 7, Andrews 4, Kemp 3, Williams-Goss 3, TEAM 3, Stewart 1, Dierickx 1
Assists: Williams-Goss 6, Wilcox 4, Anderson 3, Johnson 1
Blocks: Williams-Goss 1, Wilcox 1, Anderson 1, Dierickx 1
Steals: Williams-Goss 3, Jarreau 1, Wilcox 1, Anderson 1