TUCSON, Ariz. — Abdul Gaddy looked down and his heel was just a touch over the sideline on the first play of the second half. The Huskies were trying to run a simple dribble handoff to get the offense started, but they committed a turnover.
Lorenzo Romar looked and wondered after the whistle. He appeared ready to say something, yet the words seemed to escape him. He pivoted and went to the bench, retaining the look of a helpless coach.
Two possessions later, Scott Suggs missed a wide open 3-pointer. Washington grabbed the offensive rebound and C.J. Wilcox missed a wide open 3-pointer. Aziz N’Diaye then snatched the rebound and missed in traffic. Arizona point guard Mark Lyons turned that final miss into a layup.
No. 12 Arizona (22-4 overall, 10-4 Pacific-12 Conference) throttled flailing Washington (14-13,
6-8) 70-52 in Tucson on Wednesday night during an evening of more-of-the-same from the Huskies.
The Wildcats were too long, too crisp, too energized, particularly in the second half when their eight-point halftime lead burst to 20 points, 49-29, with 13:36 remaining in the game. Arizona shot 60.9 percent in the second half.
Wilcox led Washington with 15 points. Gaddy scored 12. The Huskies missed 25 shots in the second half, more than Arizona attempted.
“We didn’t have the firepower to combat what they did,” Romar said.
It was a menacing day in Arizona. Hail storms and snow fell across the desert and the horizon was filled with black clouds during a rare winter storm.
The doldrums continued that night for Washington. Romar turned from silence at the start of the second half to a ferocious temper tantrum midway through, spiking his clipboard during a timeout while screaming at his team.
“Play with pride,” Romar said of his message. “We’re down. Don’t sleepwalk the rest of this game. Play with a chip on your shoulder. We talk about that all the time, but it’s 9-1-1 right now. We don’t want to come in here and lose by 30, 40 points.”
A clunky game found its stride when Lyons heated up. He scored 10 consecutive points in 90 seconds to push the Wildcats in front 18-16, giving Arizona the lead back for good and for the first time since it was up 3-2 just 2:02 into the game.
Washington was able to hold Arizona to dismal shooting in the first half. The Huskies stifled drives and boxed out with authority. That level of defense was forgotten in the second half.
Once Lyons started his push, Washington began to fall back. Whistle after whistle sent Arizona to the line, where it shot 12 first-half free throws to the Huskies’ four. N’Diaye ended up with his third foul after Kevin Parrom grabbed a rebound and N’Diaye tied him up from behind. The referees signalled jump ball. At the end of the tussle, N’Diaye gave Parrom a modest push as he pulled the ball away which resulted in Parrom careening into photographers.
After he was up and the referees talked it over, N’Diaye was called for a technical foul that also gave him his third personal foul.
Solomon Hill hit both free throws to push Arizona in front 32-25. Another free throw set up the Wildcats’ 33-25 halftime lead. The deficit quickly blew up to 20 and Washington never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
“The first four minutes (of the second half), they punched us right in the mouth and we didn’t respond,” Desmond Simmons said. “This one has to hurt more than any loss. This has to be embarrassing to us where we’re sick of it, like, we’re sick of being embarrassed on national television. It’s got to mean something.”email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas