Friday, February 8, 2013
LOS ANGELES — C.J. Wilcox eluded a defender at the top of the key and drove around Travis Wear before banking in a jumper to tie the game with 10 seconds left.
However, the Washington men’s basketball team left too much time for UCLA.
At the other end, Bruins guard Larry Drew II surveyed the defense before darting left around a screen and rising for a long jumper over center Aziz N’Diaye and forward Shawn Kemp Jr., who came in too late to alter the shot.
As time expired, the basketball splashed through the bottom of the net, leaving Washington with a 59-57 heartbreaking defeat Thursday at Pauley Pavilion, which has been a house of horrors for the Huskies.
The Bruins reserves dashed off the bench and mobbed Drew, who fell on the court while the stunned Huskies had a blank look of exasperation as they walked to the locker room.
“It’s all kind of intense to make the layup, but you know you got to get a stop,” Wilcox said. “You know there’s time on the clock. The whole time you’re not worried about what just happened or what might happen. You’re just trying to stop the ball.”
The Huskies figured UCLA star freshman Shabazz Muhammad would take the final shot. He already had 22 points on 8-for-23 shooting and was the only Bruins to score in double figures.
“We knew at the end of the (game) we wanted to make Drew take a tough shot,” UW guard Abdul Gaddy said. “We were going to bring it to make sure Shabazz didn’t get it. We felt confident that if we could get to overtime, we could win the game.”
Until the last shot, the Huskies played stellar defense while holding UCLA in check. The Bruins were scoring 76.8 points per game to lead the Pac-12, but they were held 18 points below their average. Washington also limited UCLA to a season-low 33.3 percent shooting from the field.
But when they needed a defensive stand, the Huskies came up short.
“I should have been over there quicker,” Kemp said. “Basically, that last play was on me. I just got to get better at getting there.
“That wasn’t my man, but I still should have been over there to get more of a contest than I did.”
N’Diaye added: “It’s nobody’s fault. Gaddy did what he was supposed to do up top. I didn’t get there in time. I don’t know what Shawn is talking about. It’s not on him. It was just a very good shot.”
Last Saturday, N’Diaye preserved a victory over Arizona State with a last-second block, but this time he didn’t get there in time.
“I knew I had a chance to get the basket or create a shot for myself or my teammates,” Drew said. “The defense dictated where I went. I found an opening, took the shot and it went in.
“Coach (Ben Howland) has an idea of what I can do in a situation like that so he didn’t want to slow us down (with a timeout). He has confidence in us to make the play and I was glad he let us create.”
While the Huskies lamented their defensive effort on the final play, coach Lorenzo Romar pinned the defeat on UW’s 19 turnovers in a sloppy basketball game marred by miscues.
“The turnover bug bit us again. That’s the difference in the game — 19 turnovers and we lose by two.
“I don’t think you have to look any further. I thought our guys fought. I thought our guys put forth effort. I thought we guarded. I thought we ran offense. We had a lot of open looks we didn’t knock down. But we didn’t take care of the ball.”
Wilcox led the Huskies with 15 points. Gaddy added 13 points and a season-high eight assists. N’Diaye finished with 11 points and a career-best 18 rebounds and Kemp added 10 points.
The defeat dropped Washington to 13-10 and 5-5 in the Pac-12.
Meanwhile UCLA (18-5, 7-3) moved into a three-way second-place tie in the conference standings.
Perhaps just as distressing as Washington’s defeat, which dumped it to 7-61 at Pauley Pavilion, was the sight of Wilcox in a walking boot after the game.
He said an MRI days ago determined he has early stages of a stress fracture in his left foot. UW plans to monitor his condition and give him as much rest as possible, which means he’s unable to practice.
“It doesn’t hurt in games,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”