By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Thursday was a mostly calm night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion as the Washington Huskies rolled to a largely suspense-free 75-62 win over Cal Poly before a subdued crowd of 7,874.
However, every now and then, UW coach Lorenzo Romar sprang to his feet. Invariably, those were the moments when his Huskies gave the kind of effort he has been demanding.
“Anytime there was some hustle I got excited,” Romar said. “I think our team identity would be better served if that’s what makes us exciting. … Plays that win ball games and make you the best that you can be are those hustle plays.”
And if Romar didn’t quite get a full 40 minutes from his team, he seemed encouraged that they are getting closer.
“I think with the exception of the last three minutes … it was our best defense effort of the year in terms of concentration and focus,” he said. “(Cal Poly) is a team that makes the game slower. They’re very deliberate. If you’re impatient … they can wear you down mentally. I thought our guys did a great job of not allowing that to happen.”
It helped that Washington (7-4) was close to full strength with the return of guard Andrew Andrews, who had missed three games with a sprained right ankle.
Four Huskies scored in double figures, and three had at least six rebounds. C.J. Wilcox led Washington with 21 points, but he contributed across the stat sheet with six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals.
“I just want to come into the game and do a little bit more — help on the boards,” Wilcox said. “… Coach is always on us about helping those big guys out.”
Physical effort and mental discipline also helped Washington force 12 turnovers from Cal Poly (4-6), which had come into the game averaging just nine turnovers per game — best in Division I.
“The main thing was keep those guys in front, get as many deflections as possible, make it tough for them to score, but not extend ourselves,” UW guard Abdul Gaddy said. “And they were really coughing it up themselves. … We were just in the right positions at the right time.”
Washington came out sputtering with four turnovers over the first four minutes. However, once they started holding on to the ball, they rode a 9-0 run to a quick 11-2 lead.
Cal Poly answered with a run of its own to pull even 16-16. But UW took over from there, sprinting to a 31-23 halftime advantage.
The Huskies kept a comfortable lead for most of the second half, which included a stretch when they held the Mustangs scoreless for almost seven minutes. By the time that ended, Washington was up 47-33.
“The baskets that really drained us came from their offensive boards,” said Cal Poly coach Joe Callero, who previously coached at Seattle University and the University of Puget Sound. “You look at some of the other stats, certainly we would like to shoot better than 44 percent — they shot 51 percent. Forty-four-45 can probably keep us competitive in a game, but you got to get those stops so you have those extra possessions.”
It was the third straight win for Washington, which has two games remaining before the start of conference play.
“You take the Seattle U game, you take the first 12 minutes of Jackson State, now you take this game,” Romar said. “Now there’s a pattern going the other way, the positive way.”
Gaddy was included among the nominees for the 2013 Bob Cousey Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Gaddy is a senior from Tacoma who attended Bellarmine Prep. Eighty-five players were named Thursday among the initial nominees. The list will be whittled to 20 around Jan. 1, to 10 around Feb. 1 and to a final five around March 1. … The Huskies continue their homestand at 4 p.m. Saturday against Northern Illinois.