SEATTLE — Dissatisfied with the way he played during Washington’s victory over Oregon on Thursday, Nigel Williams-Goss sat down and watched the game film with coach Lorenzo Romar.
He wasn’t aggressive enough. Didn’t play like himself.
Also, Williams-Goss and Romar noticed something the freshman guard dubbed “the C.J. effect.”
That is: Opponents are so focused on leading scorer C.J. Wilcox — double-teaming him off screens, blanketing him with their top defender — there usually are openings elsewhere.
Or everywhere. Williams-Goss certainly found enough of them Saturday, leading Washington to an 87-81 Pac-12 Conference win over Oregon State by scoring a career-high 32 points, the most by a UW freshman since the NCAA made such players eligible in 1972.
Wilcox shook loose for 14 points, finishing 7-for-13 from the field despite being guarded by lengthy 6-foot-10 forward Eric Moreland for much of the game.
That was a frustrating exercise for Wilcox. But Williams-Goss seemed to enjoy the vacancies he found in the middle of the paint.
“When he comes off screens, two guys jump at him, and it frees up everyone else on the floor, not just myself,” Williams-Goss said before he posed for photos with children on the Hec Edmundson Pavilion floor. “When you play with such a prolific scorer like C.J., it makes everything so much easier.”
The freshman scored everywhere. He made 10 of his 15 field-goal attempts — 3-for-4 from 3-point range — and was 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. He scored on driving layups, on floaters, in transition and off ball screens.
He also played 34 minutes and collected five rebounds and three assists without committing a turnover.
“I think that’s probably one of the best freshman performances maybe we’ve seen in this building,” Romar said. “I can’t go all the way back to know about that, but what a performance he put on. He was just very, very efficient offensively and defensively.”
UW (13-8, 5-3 Pac-12) needed it. Wilcox went more than half of the first half without attempting a shot. Though he made some big plays in the second half, it was obvious the bulk of the Huskies’ offense would have to come from someone else.
Especially after OSU used a quick run to pull ahead, 45-33, almost two minutes into the second half. Romar called a timeout to settle the Huskies down.
“We missed some easy buckets,” Wilcox said, “and he put that in perspective for us.”
Must have been some pretty strong perspective. A few minutes later, the Huskies ripped off a 23-5 run, keyed by Wilcox’s awakening — he scored eight points in that span — the steady hand of Williams-Goss, and enough energy from guard Mike Anderson to earn a few extra possessions.
Washington’s lead was 68-58 with 7:12 to play, Romar sticking with the same five players — Williams-Goss, Wilcox, Anderson, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Perris Blackwell — for 11-plus minutes while the game was decided.
OSU cut UW’s lead to three points with 1:07 to go, but the Beavers never possessed the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Blackwell finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in 36 minutes, battling against bigger OSU forwards Moreland, Devon Collier and Angus Brandt. Collier muscled inside for 23 points.
OSU guard Roberto Nelson rained jumpers on the Huskies and scored 31 points, but that 23-5 stretch was simply too much for the Beavers to overcome.
“When those five out there playing are in a zone, that’s what you see,” Romar said. “You see defensively, everyone’s in sync, in unison, moving together. You see guys battling on the boards together. As big as that team was, we outrebounded them in this game. Offensively, for 111/2 minutes, no one cared who got the credit.”
Credit certainly is due. The Huskies are 5-3 in Pac-12 play after a shaky nonconference schedule made many wonder if they would win this many conference games, period. Now they visit last-place Washington State with a chance to finish 6-3 in the first half of Pac-12 play.
“We dropped some we shouldn’t have lost, but overall, we’re in a good position,” Wilcox said. “We have three on the road coming up, so we’ve got to take care of business there.”
The career scoring leaders in University of Washington men’s basketball history:
Player, Years, Points
- Chris Welp, 1984-87, 2,073
- Jon Brockman, 2006-09, 1,805
- Quincy Pondexter, 2007-10, 1,786
- Bob Houbregs, 1951-53, 1,774
- Todd MacCulloch, 1996-99, 1,743
- Isaiah Thomas, 2008-11, 1,721
- C.J. Wilcox, 2011-14, 1,705
- Eldridge Recasner, 1987-90, 1,700