This was a 72-49 victory, one that didn’t look all that difficult, the Cougars buried beneath a pile of missed 3-pointers, missed rebounds and poor defense before a season-best crowd of 7,647.
How did Washington do it? Nigel Williams-Goss, the steady freshman point guard, scored 17 points and grabbed a career-best 12 rebounds. Andrew Andrews, the sophomore guard who is playing his best basketball recently, scored 16 points and grabbed a career-best nine rebounds.
WSU shot 31 percent from the field, mustering next to nothing offensively outside of junior guard and Curtis High alum DaVonte Lacy, who scored 25 points and made four 3-pointers. His teammates missed all 15 of their 3-point tries, and combined for only eight field goals.
So bad were the Cougars that they didn’t make a field goal in the final 13:03, and scored only five points – all free-throws – in that span.
“Plain and simple, we didn’t hit shots,” Lacy said. “We had a lot of wide-open looks in the second half, and we just didn’t hit shots.”
(The Cougars’ wackiest stat line belonged to senior forward D.J. Shelton, who grabbed 15 rebounds but shot 0-for-10 from 3-point range.)
So yes, the Huskies dominated. Which raises the most pertinent question: How in the heck did they lose to this team on Feb. 1?
Of UW’s performance Friday, coach Lorenzo Romar cracked: “Wish we could have had a little more of that when we were in Pullman.”
On that day, WSU used a big second-half run to win, 72-67. The Cougars (9-19, 2-14) have not won since. It is not difficult to discern why.
Lacy, who made 6-of-14 from the field, is WSU’s best scorer. On Friday, he was essentially its only scorer.
Andrews said the Huskies knew “before the game started” they weren’t likely to be hurt by anyone other than Lacy.
“When he kind of gets going, the other guys feed off him,” Andrews said. “So we knew DaVonte was going to take his shots, so we were just really, really focusing on trying to limit the other players from getting going.”
They did that. Lacy’s teammates shot 8-for-31 from the field (25.8 percent).
“He’s a pretty good shooter. They really depend on him a lot,” Romar said. “He scores 39 on Cal, he scored 36 on Colorado. They depend on him so much that if he gets it going, he can knock some down. But that’s really what ended up happening – we did not want those other guys to beat us, for sure.”
Most of those misses landed in the hands of UW’s starting guard duo, Williams-Goss and Andrews, who accounted for 21 of the Huskies’ 39 rebounds.
Both players were also aggressive offensively, particularly Andrews, who put his head down and journeyed rimward on a handful of occasions. He drew fouls and finished 7-of-10 from the free-throw line, 4-of-10 from the field.
Williams-Goss’ game was highlighted by a steal-and-score in the open court, which began a 9-0 run midway through the second half that put the Huskies ahead by 18 points. He finished that play with a one-handed dunk, though Andrews teased afterward that the flush might not have been entirely authentic.
The rebounds were more memorable, anyway.
“Coach really wants our guards to rebound,” Williams-Goss said. “We just try to get as many rebounds as we can, because when me and (Andrews) get the rebound, it’s an instant fast break.”
The Huskies (16-13, 8-8) outscored WSU 19-5 in the final 11:17, and emptied their bench during the final minutes. They host UCLA on Thursday, USC on Saturday, then travel to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament beginning March 12.
“I think we have a confidence right now that if we do what we’re supposed to do, we have a chance to be successful against the other team. That is a confidence I think at times was lacking.
“Again, we just won two games. It’s not like all of a sudden we’re undefeated. We still have to continue to do what we’re doing. But I think we’ve made a lot of progress in terms of just a belief that OK, if we do this, we’re going to be OK. And we’ve been committed to doing what we know to do.”
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