SEATTLE — Lorenzo Romar wasn’t necessarily trying to raise the roof.
On an afternoon when his leading scorer was hurting, his second-leading scorer was sitting out, and the Washington State Cougars were well on their way to making Hec Edmundson Pavilion their home away from home for the fifth time in seven years, all Romar was trying to get across was that he didn’t like a call.
And yet when the typically laid-back coach of the University of Washington men’s basketball team went ballistic on the sideline on got whistled for a technical foul midway through the second half of Sunday afternoon’s game against the rival Cougars, everything changed. The UW fans came alive, the Huskies started drilling 3-pointers like they were layups, and, in the end, WSU had no chance of walking off the Hec Ed floor with a win this time around.
Romar’s technical foul sparked a 23-4 run, sophomore Terrence Ross capped off a career night by putting the Cougars away with a variety of 3-pointers and alley-oops dunks as the Huskies rolled to a 75-65 win over WSU.
Ross scored 26 of his career-high 30 points after halftime, making five consecutive shots from 3-point range during one 10-minute stretch of the second half, to help reward a crowd that came alive even before the Huskies did. The 6-foot-6 super-soph finally lived up to his billing on an afternoon when sixth man C.J. Wilcox was sidelined with a stress fracture of the femur.
“Terrence is capable of that,” teammate Abdul Gaddy said. “He didn’t even start off well, but he got going. He’s difficult to stop once he gets going.”
Ross said he was inspired by the same call that drew Romar’s ire and resulted in the technical. After being called for charging with 12:16 remaining, Ross erupted for 16 points the rest of the way.
“That was the one play that really made me angry,” he said. “Right after that, they called a technical, and that just added fuel to the fire. … Sometimes when I get angry, I can really start balling.”
But it was the temper tantrum of Ross’ coach that set off the fans well before the sweet-shooting wing man gave them reason to cheer.
After Ross was called for a charge with 12:16 remaining, and the Huskies trailing by eight points at 45-37, Romar went Bobby Knight in front of the UW bench. He was whistled for a technical foul, and a pair of WSU free throws extended the Cougars’ lead to 10 points on a night when UW’s offense was as icy as the streets outside.
But the home crowd took out its collective frustration by standing in unison and giving the Huskies an ear-rattling ovation that woke UW up. Ross tipped off a 15-2 run over the next four minutes, leading the Huskies to a 52-49 lead, then turned it up a notch by scoring 13 more points in the final 61/2 minutes. UW outscored WSU 38-18 over the final 12 minutes, including a 23-4 run that put the Huskies ahead 60-51 with 5:53 remaining.
“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. When the crowd really got into it, it really helped.”
The Huskies (11-6 overall, 4-1 in the Pacific-12 Conference) admitted that the technical foul helped inspire them over the final 12 minutes.
“It seemed like the refs were against us (Sunday afternoon), and when we face adversity like that, I have to rally up my guys and tell them: ‘It’s eight against five right now, so we’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do to get back in this game and try to get the win,’” said senior Darnell Gant, who scored 13 points for the game and had two huge dunks during the 23-4 run.
Neither team seemed overly motivated to win during a rough, three-minute stretch in the first half that saw UW and WSU combine for six turnovers and 1-for-7 shooting from the field. The Cougars eventually found some rhythm and used a 12-2 run, courtesy of three 3-pointers and a traditional three-point play in a span of 95 seconds, to pull out to a 31-20 lead with 4:33 remaining.
With 3:07 left, UW’s Tony Wroten Jr. made his first field goal of the game to help the Huskies close out the half with five unanswered points and a manageable six-point deficit, at 31-25. Through 20 minutes of play, UW made just 9 of 31 field-goal attempts and 4 of 10 free throws. Wroten, who was nursing a bruised tailbone and two sore elbows, combined with Ross to hit just 3 of 17 shots during the first half.
The Huskies switched up their offensive look against WSU’s zone defense in the second half, with Wroten
Ross, who made just 1 of 9 shots over the opening 20 minutes, was the undisputable star of the second half.
“The first half, it didn’t really happen for me, but I just had to keep pushing,” he said. “And eventually, it happened for me.”
The sophomore had to help offset the loss of Wilcox, whom Romar said is unlikely to play against Cal and Stanford this week and may only see limited minutes even when he does eventually return to action. The Huskies needed time to adjust without his defense and outside shooting, but eventually things came together for UW.
Gant, a fifth-year senior who had already seen two home losses to WSU during his career, was relieved to finish off the Cougars (9-8, 3-2) on this afternoon.
“I was ready for this game,” said Gant, who hadn’t scored more than six points in a game since mid-December and lost his starting spot along the way. “This game was really circled on my calendar. It’s my last time playing the Cougars at home, I definitely wanted to come out with a victory, and we did.”
Romar wasn’t the only coach to draw attention Sunday. WSU’s Ken Bone was met with applause and laughter when he slipped and fell onto the floor while attempting to call a timeout with 91⁄2 minutes left in the second half. Bone chuckled after standing up, and both he and Romar were able to laugh about it afterward. “That could happen to me,” Romar said, “so I’m never going to bring it up to him.” … During a timeout five minutes into Sunday’s game, former UW and WSU coach Marv Harshman was honored in an on-court ceremony. Harshman, a Lake Stevens native, was wheeled onto the court by son David before receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. … Among the fans attending Sunday’s game was Snohomish High School boys basketball coach Len Bone, who sat two rows behind the WSU bench. Bone is the older brother of Cougars coach Ken Bone, and he’s also the father of UW team manager Kegan Bone. … Edmonds native Charlie Enquist made his 16th start of the season for WSU but didn’t score a point or grab a rebound over nine minutes of action.