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November 27, 2013

Wilcox explodes to lead Huskies to win

SEATTLE - When the Huskies needed it most, with an uncomfortable game with Montana hanging in the balance, their senior sharpshooter turned back into Three-J Wilcox.

C.J.-to-the-Rescue scored eight points in 2 minutes, including consecutive swishes from 3-point range in front of his team's relieved bench, during the decisive stretch midway through the second half. Wilcox's 28 points, 22 in the second half, rallied Washington to an 83-79 victory over the Grizzlies Tuesday night at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Wilcox finished two points off his career high set Friday against Boston College in New York, and freshman Nigel Williams-Goss finished with 20 points, six assists, just one turnover and more heady play for the Huskies (3-3).

They rallied from eight points down in the first half.

Wilcox, the fifth-year senior, made five of his first six shots in the second half, after Williams-Goss had kept UW afloat in the first half.

The Huskies had problems most of the night with Jordan Gregory and Keron DeShields of Montana (1-3). Each made nine of his first 12 shots, as the Grizzlies led by eight points multiple times in the first half.

The reason Montana lead 42-36 at halftime was because it shot 71 percent. The reason the Griz were 15 for 21? The Huskies left them far too open outside.

UW is in flux defensively, after losing Jernard Jarreau for the season, losing Desmond Simmons until late December, having Shawn Kemp Jr. battling through Graves Disease in his thyroid and watching Hikeem Stewart seeking a transfer this week. Coach Lorenzo Romar has demanded for 12 years his teams pressure the ball outside and deny passes to the wings. But this team isn't deep enough and has yet to prove it is quick or aware enough to challenge outside, and when it does - as against Indiana last week in New York - the new emphasis on defensive-contact fouls has burned UW.

So now the Huskies are trying to help more off the ball and sag into the lane to deny drives inside.

Montana has exploited that by staying outside in the first half, and sometimes stepped out way beyond the 3-point arc. The result: Completely uncontested shots, as the Grizzlies were 9 for their first 15 (60 percent) from 3-point range.

So the Dawgs were getting their chances on offense. To win, they needed to step up - literally - on defense.

In the second half, they did.

The Huskies next host Long Beach State Saturday at 3:30 p.m.


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