(1090 The Fan) — Looking for an unlikely sweep of Arizona schools on the road, the Washington Huskies fell just shy of that daunting task in a 71-62 loss to the top-ranked Wildcats at the McKale Center, Saturday.
The Huskies led 52-51 with just under 10 minutes remaining, but couldn’t hold of the undefeated Wildcats. Arizona got important baskets from Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon late to hold a very game Washington (9-6, 1-1) squad off at the end.
Johnson scored 24 points and the freshman Gordon finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead Arizona (15-0, 2-0).
The final score really did not indicate just how competitive this Pac-12 conference contest was. Washington led for a good portion in this one, playing with a consistent effort that had been seldom seen from the squad this season.
C.J. Wilcox scored 20 points, while forward Perris Blackwell provided a strong post presence against the tough frontline of Arizona. Blackwell finished with a double-double as he scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
A sluggish start to the Washington Huskies season, had many believing a rough Pac-12 season would be in store. After all, the team lost nonconference contests to teams like UC Irvine and Boston College, while the defense was allowing among the most points in the country.
The Huskies, though, held a 35-33 lead at the break as excellent play by its starting guards and effort on the glass, challenged Arizona.
Washington would continue its strong play in the second half, edging out by as many as six points, leading 42-36 with 16 minutes remaining. The Huskies held Arizona to 42 percent field-goal shooting and fought gamely on the glass, as Arizona held just a four rebound edge.
In the end, Washington just didn’t have enough big bodies to hang with the likes of Gordon and 7-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski underneath. When Shawn Kemp Jr. fouled out with about 10 minutes remaining, Washington lost its lead and never regained control of the contest.
The effort, however, should leave Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar pleased as his Huskies return home for games against Utah and Colorado next week.
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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