NEW YORK – The Washington Huskies spent almost a week in New York City. They got to see some Broadway shows and other points of interest. They also got to play two ranked teams in Madison Square Garden and left the Big Apple with two losses.
Freshman Austin Rivers scored 18 points to lead No. 7 Duke to an 86-80 victory over the Huskies on Saturday. Five days earlier, Washington left Madison Square Garden after a 79-77 loss to No. 11 Marquette in the Jimmy V Classic.
“We are capable of being competitive with just about anyone,” Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. “That doesn’t mean anything when you are 4-4. You have to get over the hump. I think we will.”
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski knows how close the Huskies came to having one heck of a week in New York.
“We beat a really talented Washington team, the team that’s two possessions from being 6-1,” he said. “I mean they played really good basketball.”
The Huskies struggled in the first half against Duke then got a big lift in the second half from freshman Tony Wroten, who finished with a season-high 23 points.
“We dug ourselves a big hole in the first half,” Wroten said. “Being down 17, 18 points, I don’t know what it was, but we just weren’t playing like we usually play. Once we got into our groove, it was a little bit too late.”
The Blue Devils overcame a 27-for-44 performance at the free-throw line.
“Today, one of the stories, quite obviously, is our missed free throws,” Krzyzewski said. “You know, we make free throws it’s not that close at the end. Now when you miss free throws like that, the result can be different at the end and you can lose.”
The Blue Devils (9-1) seemed in control, taking a 19-point lead three times in the second half. But the Huskies shook off a terrible first half and started chipping away at the deficit.
The Huskies were able to get as close as six points late when Duke, which entered the game shooting 67.4 percent from the line, made just 12 of 18 free throws over the final 2:30, including a stretch in which the Blue Devils made 1 of 2 on four consecutive trips.