C.J. Wilcox (Jane Gershovich/Dawgman.com)
SEATTLE - Despite the constant rotating of the Northern Illinois bench, the Huskies from the Midwest and no answer for the second chance creating Washington Huskies, as Lorenzo Romar’s squad secured a 67-57 victory on Saturday night in Alaska Airlines Arena. The Huskies, yet again led by C.J. Wilcox in scoring with 22 points, posed big mismatches for the undersized Northern Illinois side.
“When we recruited C.J., I remember his dad talking about him possibly redshirting his freshman year,” Romar said. “I remember all of us in agreement that if he redshirts, he’ll do well, but by his junior year, he would really breakout. That was when he was in high school. That is something we have anticipated for him to be able to do that.
“And there are teams around the country where you have some talent, like we have really good guards, sometimes when it’s your turn, you step up. We’ve had other guys do that when it was their turn. Quincy [Pondexter] averaged about 13 until his senior year and then he averaged close to 20. Brandon Roy averaged 14 or so, then he averaged close to 20. Some do it earlier. Isaiah Thomas; right as a freshman he did it. C.J. has really improved in all areas of the game. He’s not one dimensional.”
The biggest culprit of the mismatches, besides Wilcox, was seen on second chance points, where big man Aziz N’Diaye secured rebound after rebound, giving Wilcox and Scott Suggs plenty of looks from the outside. Where, from beyond the arc, Washington finished 9-25. UW also finished with 22 second chance points off of their 22 offensive rebounds.
While UW (9-4) carried a halftime lead of 36-25 and a game-high lead of 15, Washington allowed Northern Illinois to stay within reach with a late second half surge, pulling within six with just 1:45 to go.
However, like in many recent games, Washington did just enough to hold onto the lead despite several turnovers and wasted possessions late in the game.
“Interesting game for us. I can’t remember a game we shot 31 percent from the field,” Romar said. “That hadn’t been a pattern for this team. If you go back and look, over the 11 years we’ve been here, I think we’ve shot it over 47 percent maybe one or two times in 11 years. So we have been shooting a high percentage and then tonight with a lot of open looks, the ball didn’t go down.”
In the paint, N’Diaye had another solid game with 12 rebounds – five of which were offensive – and 13 points on five of seven shooting from the floor.
As a team, Washington was nothing short of remarkable from the free-throw line, going 22 of 24 with the only misses coming from N’Diaye and Desmond Simmons.
Additionally, Washington out rebounded Northern Illinois 42-30 and had 20 defensive rebounds.
For Northern Illinois, Abdel Nader was the most dangerous man on the court, finishing with 18 points on seven of 16 shooting from the floor.
“Give them credit,” Romar said. “They’re a scrappy team. Nader is a very good offensive player. Hard to deal with.”
With a big game at Connecticut on tap, Romar is pleased where his team is at going into the tough contest.
“I think we’ve made progress, I really do,” Romar said of his slow starting Huskies. “It’s hard to tell with so many missed shots tonight. I really do believe we’ve made progress from say three weeks ago.”
Points: Wilcox 22, N'Diaye 13, Gaddy 12, Suggs 9, Simmons 4, Andrews 3, Jarreau 2, Kemp 2
Rebounds: N'Diaye 12, Wilcox 7, Andrews 6, Simmons 5, Gaddy 5, Jarreau 3, Kemp 2, Suggs 1, TEAM 1
Assists: Gaddy 6, Suggs 3, Wilcox 2, Simmons 1, Stewart 1, Andrews 1
Steals: Wilcox 2, Simmons 1, N'Diaye 1
Blocks: N'Diaye 1, Wilcox 1, Andrews 1, Jarreau 1