Saturday, March 1, 2014
SEATTLE — The friendship between Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews began nearly a decade ago while they were pre-teens growing up in Oregon.
After a four-year separation, they’re reunited at Washington and sharing a backcourt for the Huskies.
“It’s our first year being together since we were younger so the more we play with each other, the more we’re going to be able to see what each other likes to do and the spots that they like to get the ball,” Andrews said after Washington’s 72-49 win over Washington State. “About three or four games ago, we’ve kind of just been clicking. Just playing off of each other.
“It came together tonight. This is what we can do when we’re just out there playing. Honestly, it felt a little bit like old times.”
For most of Friday night, Williams-Goss and Andrews took turns beating up their cross-state rival.
They did a little bit of everything. They scored inside on layups and outside with three-pointers. They came up big on the glass and combined for 21 rebounds.
They flawlessly directed Washington’s offense, which converted 51 percent from the field and committed just 10 turnovers. And they spearheaded an attack that held Washington State to 31.1 percent shooting and a season-low points for an UW opponent.
Washington State junior guard DaVonte Lacy tried to keep the Cougars in contention and buried shots from every spot on the floor.
But Washington countered the one-man scoring barrage with a balanced offensive attack led by Williams-Goss and Andrews.
“At this point in the year – it’s not just Nigel and Andrews – but everyone is focused on what are we supposed to do to be our best,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “That’s it. When that happens there is potential for chemistry to be good and guys work in concert with each other at a higher level.”
Williams-Goss notched his second straight double-double while finishing with 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Andrews had 16 points and nine rebounds. Both had four assists and two steals.
With Williams-Goss and Andrews leading the way, Washington (16-13, 8-8 in Pac-12) could afford an off night from leading scorer C.J. Wilcox, who had eight points. Perris Blackwell scored 10.
Meanwhile, Lacy scored a game-high 25 points. No other WSU player had more than seven. D.J. Shelton had 15 rebounds for Washington State, which lost its seventh straight game and fell to 9-19, 2-14.
“We knew DaVonte was going to take his shots,” Andrews said. “So we wanted to limit the other players from getting going.”
After Lacy’s three-pointer cut Washington’s lead to 53-44 with 13:04 left, Williams-Goss stole a pass and flushed a dunk. The basket began a 9-0 spurt.
“It was a big play that got our lead back up to double digits,” Williams-Goss said. “But it wasn’t just that play. It was multiple plays throughout the second half.”
Darin Johnson capped the spurt when he stripped Lacy. Mike Anderson recovered the loose ball and threw a long pass down court to Johnson, who finished the sequence with a two-hand dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.
The basket put Washington up 62-44 with 8:44 left.
The Huskies were never threatened again and stretched their lead to 25 points in the final few minutes.
“Wish we could have had a little more of that when we were in Pullman,” Romar said, referring to Washington’s 72-67 loss at Washington State on Feb. 1.
In fact, Husky fans are asking where has this UW team been all season? And is it too late for Washington to make a run toward a postseason tournament with two games remaining in the regular season.
“We’re confident now that, if we do what we’re supposed to do, we have a chance to be successful,” Romar said. “That is a confidence I think at times was lacking.
“Now again, we’ve just won two games. That’s not like, all of a sudden, we’re undefeated. We still have to continue doing what we’ve been doing, but I think we have made a lot of progress in terms of just a belief.”