C.J. Wilcox (USA TODAY Sports)
C.J. Wilcox scored five of his game-high 27 points in the final 1:41 as Washington pulled away from Stanford to beat the Cardinal 65-60 Saturday night at Maples Pavilion. With the win the Huskies start league play with three-straight road wins for the first time since 1912.
"I don't know if anyone realizes how tough this game was to win," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "Stanford has a lot of offensive weapons and they play pretty good defense. This was just a tough win, and I can't say enough about how our guys fought all the way through and grinded this out. Our guys did a phenomenal job of staying the course. We could have easily folded again, but we didn't. I thought they handled the last part of the game in a very mature fashion."
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with 15 lead changes before the Huskies' stifling defense started to take a toll on the Cardinal shooters. Both teams shot 52 percent the first half, but Stanford went cold - allowing UW to push to their largest lead of the game - a Wilcox three-pointer with 9:57 remaining in the game.
"The second half we buckled down and got a hold of them," Wilcox said. "The biggest thing was getting rebounds. They got too many in the first half."
Led by the 13 rebounds of Desmond Simmons - who also had the arduous task of defending Stanford's top scorer - Dwight Powell - as well as the career-high nine from Wilcox, Washington eliminated a lot of second-chance opportunities that the Cardinal had taken advantage of the first half. Washington ended up out-rebounding Stanford 37-29.
"Our guys banded together as a team and played great team defense," Romar said. "In the first half we were helping off of guys we weren't supposed to help off of. In the second half we made that adjustment. It wasn't an adjustment based on the game; it was what we talked about. It was our game plan. We got away from that in the first half but re-captured it in the second half and did a much better job defending."
On their next possession, Stanford drew a foul and was put into the bonus, going on a quick 6-0 run to pull themselves back to 52-50 with 8:26 to play. Wilcox countered with a big three-pointer with 5:59 left to push Washington's advantage to 55-50 and were able to hold on down the stretch with the junior from Pleasant Grove, Utah providing his reliable scoring touch. Wilcox's 27 points was one off his career high, set against Colorado State earlier in the season.
"He was very good," Romar said of Wilcox. "When he's on like he was tonight, you keep feeding him."
"It definitely helps when Abdul (Gaddy) and Andrew (Andrews) are looking for you coming off screens," Wilcox added. "We started slow, but the second half we knew we needed to play more like we did at Cal."
The Cardinal still had a chance to win the game late. With 39 seconds left and down two, the home team went to their workhorse Powell, who finished with a hard-earned 19 points to lead Stanford. But Simmons, who had been in his jersey all night, teamed up with center Aziz N'diaye to force Powell into a shot that never found iron. Wilcox came up with the loose ball and made one of two free throws. Still with a chance to tie the game, an Aaron Bright jumper went begging for the Cardinal with 13 seconds left. Simmons came up with the last of his 13 rebounds and was able to find Wilcox in the clear for a layup to give the Huskies their margin of victory.
"You look at the different guys that stepped up down the stretch: Aziz N'Diaye, who hit free throws down the stretch. Desmond Simmons, who came up with ball after ball, getting 13 rebounds," Romar said. "Dwight Powell scored 19 points, but he worked for those. Desmond was working. C.J. (Wilcox) just had a phenomenal game - nine rebounds, almost a double-double. He hit big shots for us down the stretch.
"Overall the defensive job our guys did on Aaron Bright - Abdul Gaddy almost guarded him almost the entire time and did a great job. And in the second half, (Chasson) Randle, who hurt us in the first half, only scores three. So it was just a collective effort by all of our guys down the stretch."
With the win the Huskies go to 11-5 overall and 3-0 in league play - all their wins coming on the road. They've won nine of their last 11 games. Stanford dropped to 1-3 in Pac-12 play and 10-7 overall.
Points: Wilcox 27, N'Diaye 14, Simmons 7, Andrews 6, Suggs 6, Gaddy 3, Kemp 2
Rebounds: Simmons 13, Wilcox 9, N'Diaye 7, Gaddy 3, Andrews 1, Suggs 1, Kemp 1
Assists: Gaddy 2, Suggs 2, Andrews 1, Wilcox 1
Blocks: Wilcox 2, N'Diaye 1, Suggs 1
Steals: Andrews 4, Suggs 2