Washington (17-14, 9-9) came into their match up with UCLA (23-8, 13-5) struggling with turnovers. Saturday was no different. The Huskies turned the ball over nineteen times resulting in twenty-nine UCLA points. That alone was the difference in the game.
"It was pretty obvious to our team and me where the difference in that game was" head coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "UCLA did a great job of forcing us into 19 turnovers, which they converted into 29 points."
"It's similar to what happened at their place. That was the difference in the game right there."
Washington started off strong going five-of-six from the field, jumping out to an early 13-8 lead over the 23rd ranked UCLA Bruins. Forward Shawn Kemp Jr. led the way early with six points of his eight first half points in the first five minutes.
The Huskies expanded their lead to six with just over thirteen minutes to go in the first half before UCLA made a surging comeback to tie the game at twenty-two with 7:03 remaining.
Washington stretched their lead back to five with 3:21 remaining before a late UCLA run cut the defect to one heading into halftime at 31-30. Kemp and Wilcox led the way for Washington in the first half scoring eight a piece on 7-of-13 combined from the floor.
Senior Scott Suggs put in seven of his team high fourteen in the first half and ignited the Huskies throughout the game both offensively and defensively. "I thought Scott Suggs stepped up and offensively had a good game" Romar said. "I thought he really battled Shabazz. He's giving up around 30 pounds there, and he really battled."
Forward Travis Wear led the way for UCLA with ten points on 4-of-7 shooting. Freshman phenom Shabazz Muhammad put in seven of his own on 3-of-9 shooting.
Muhammad and UCLA looked a lot better coming out of the break converting on four of their first five shots. The Huskies kept it close midway through the second half cutting the Bruins lead down to one at with 13:19 remaining in the game.
The turnover woes were too much to over come as UCLA capitalized on twelve Washington turnovers scoring 18 points as a result. Washington continued to show their fight down the stretch with senior point guard Abdul Gaddy converting on a mid-range jumper followed by a Suggs layup off a UCLA turnover.
About three-fourths of the 8,747 in attendance were cheering the Huskies on as they continued to keep the score close heading into the final minutes.
After Muhammad converted on one of his two free throws giving UCLA the 53-52 lead with 2:51 to play Washington never got closer. A questionable no-call foul on Andrew Andrews, who was hit while in the act of shooting a three with fifteen seconds remaining, riled up Romar but it was too little to late.
Washington now likely will take the fifth seed in the Pac-12 tournament which starts Wednesday, March 13th in Las Vegas.
Romar said he hates to see the seniors go out with a loss but center Aziz N'Diaye remained positive. "We've seen a lot of wins here, and the dawg pack and all of our fans have been amazing throughout our whole careers here at UW. We wanted to win to finish everything right."
Gaddy, Suggs and N'Diaye combined to finish with twenty-seven points on 11-of-22 shooting. C.J. Wilcox struggled finishing with eight points, all of which he scored in the first half.
For UCLA Shabazz Muhammad finished with twenty-one points on 8-of-17 shooting while Jordan Adams finished with seventeen points on 5-of-14 shooting.
UCLA head coach Ben Howland waited to talk with the media until after the Utah-Oregon game. On the win Howland said, "Great win for our team today, after the disappointment of losing Wednesday on the road, to come in here and win for the first time in nine years."
He added "no comment" when asked about the no-call on Andrew Andrews at the end of the game. With the win and Oregon falling to Utah the Bruins claimed the Pac-12 regular season trophy outright and the No.1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.
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