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Huskies struggle to put away winless Jackson State

Sun., Dec. 16, 2012, midnight

SEATTLE – Washington managed a 75-67 victory over winless Jackson State on Saturday, and Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said his team did not progress from the victory.

“We took a step back from the game the other night, that’s for sure,” said Romar, whose team had beaten city rival Seattle University on Thursday, 87-74.

The Huskies (6-4), who made just 12 of 26 free throws, marched out to double-digit leads in both halves then allowed the Tigers (0-8) to scramble back to within a basket each time.

C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs provided the offense for the Huskies with 21 and 17 points, respectively.

Suggs, coming off a career-high 24 points Thursday, scored nine of the Huskies first 14 points to start the second half.

Kelsey Howard had 23 points for the Tigers. Christian Williams added 15.

“We weren’t looking at their record,” Huskies senior guard Abdul Gaddy said. “We weren’t looking at anyone’s record cause ours isn’t the greatest.”

For Jackson State, this was the eighth of 11 straight road games to start the season. It’s the Tigers’ closest loss as they have an average deficit of 24.4 points per game.

The Tigers’ first home game – and their Southwestern Athletic Conference opener – will be Jan. 6 against Alcorn State

Jackson State gave the Huskies some early first-half trouble, coming back from seven down to pull to within two points, 13-11, with 14 minutes left. Suggs and Wilcox then hit successive 3-pointers to begin a 14-point Husky run. The Tigers went 5:09 without a point.

The Huskies built the lead to 16 points, 29-13, before the Tigers charged back again. Williams connected on a pair of 3s to bring the Tigers back to within seven, 29-22, at the 7:08 mark.

“We turned the ball over several times,” Romar said, and when that happened “we did not contest shots like we were doing the first 10 minutes.” He said the first-half collapse set the tone for the second-half letdown.

“We came out of a timeout, and we were up by 16, then next time I knew they had cut the lead down,” Wilcox said. “We were just really inconsistent. Once we get up 16 we need to push it to 24 or 25 points. We should learn how to put it away.”

The lead dwindled down to just two points, 33-31, on Sydney Coleman’s fast-break score before the Huskies used a corrective timeout.

Aziz N’Diaye’s rebound put-back with 0.04 left gave the Huskies a 40-34 lead at intermission.

“They had 34 points at halftime and 19 of them were off second-chance points and turnovers,” Romar said. “We were a little better in the second half.

But the Huskies rose and fell in the same fashion in the second half.

Washington had an 11-point lead midway through the second half, but the Tigers brought it back to just three points, 67-64, on Williams’ three-pointer with 6:12 left.

Wilcox then hit a 3-pointer with 5:45 left, just the third of 11 three-point attempts for Wilcox, a 43.4 percent shooter from behind the arc.

The Tigers’ last basket came with 5:24 left, 70-67. They did not score again. They turned the ball over in four of their final five possessions and did not stop the clock with a foul over the final 90 seconds.

“I thought we played hard,” Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson said. “We made some mistakes late that really hurt us a lot, we turned the ball over two straight times down the court where we had chance to go ahead or tie the game, and that hurt us quite a bit.

“I think we scared them a little bit tonight. We were able to gather a little confidence that we can play against the big teams.”

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