March 14, 2012
Ross guts it out as Huskies advance in NIT
The top-seeded Washington Huskies didn't let their guard down after beating eighth-seeded University of Texas-Arlington, 82-72. With speculations from the media that being in the NIT would discourage them from playing their best, the Huskies proved them wrong.
Darnell Gant backed up that point after the game Tuesday night.
"I feel like our guys have embraced the fact that we are in the NIT now, and we all have the mindset to go as far as we can and try to win it," said Gant. "Whatever happened in the NCAA tournament is in the past now and we can't change it. We can't get in. So we have to make the most of it now."
This is the Huskies' first time appearing in the NIT since 1997.
After starting the game scoreless for the first three minutes, Gant dropped a jumper to give the Huskies their first points of the game. It got better from there as the Huskies closed out the first half with a 50 percent field goal percentage, but being outrebounded 25-12 prevented them from breaking the 37-37 tie before the half.
Coach Lorenzo Romar knew how crucial the offensive rebounds from UT-Arlington were, especially since several points were scored off those rebounds.
"We knew that Texas-Arlington was going to be a scrappy team and we saw that live and up close as they got 13 offensive rebounds in the first half. That was the difference," said Romar. "The score was tied at half and they earned it by crashing the boards the way they did. They had 12 points off second chance baskets and we had zero."
For every downside though, there's an upside. Terrence Ross made the crowd forget about UT-Arlington's rebounding streak by scoring 11 points in just under three minutes to maintain the tie at halftime.
Romar even reported that Ross didn't play as much in the second half due to an apparent hip flexor problem. If it wasn't Ross lighting up the scoreboard, Gant and C.J. Wilcox were right behind him to help contribute to the team's victory. Those two alone were another thing to worry about for UT-Arlington coach Scott Cross.
"We needed to try to limit the touches on Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox obviously, makes everything difficult for them," Cross said.
Ross was the leading scorer with 23 points. Wilcox stepped up from the bench, finishing the night with 15 points. Gant tacked on a double-double, scoring 13 points and getting 10 boards.
Cross credited the rest of the team as they jumped to a 68 percent field goal percentage in the second half.
"When you have a size advantage, you're going to shoot a higher percentage," said Cross.
"You're going to get layups, you're going to get dunks, and you're going to get those things. We know we want our defense to be better, but you have to give them credit too."
With the win over UT-Arlington, the Huskies will face fourth seeded Northwestern Wildcats on Friday at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The momentum from beating UT-Arlington should help the Huskies against the Wildcats.
"I feel like the fact that knowing every game is a potential to be your last and you could go home, that mindset is going to help us to play hard, especially against Northwestern," Gant said. "They're a good team, I feel like we're going to be ready. We're going to bounce back from this game."
Ross, who participated in drills in Wednesday's light practice, is listed as probable for Friday's game.
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