Sports

Huskies win ugly

Poor shooting lets NIU stay close

SEATTLE – After four relatively easy wins against overmatched opponents, including Saturday’s 67-57 victory over Northern Illinois, things are about to get serious for the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team.

In many ways, the next five games could decide their season. They play four straight contests on the road starting Saturday at Connecticut (9-2), their final nonconference game.

Their Pac-12 season begins Jan. 5 at Washington State followed by a road trip to the Bay Area to face California and Stanford. The Huskies return home Jan. 16 for the conference home opener against defending tournament champ Colorado.

 The combined record of Washington’s previous four opponents is 8-29, while its next five foes are a combined 41-15.

“No question about it, the level of competition is going up,” said C.J. Wilcox, who finished with 22 points and seven rebounds against NIU. “I think we’re ready. We let a couple get away, but we’ve learned from them and we’re going to try to keep taking steps forward.”

In their minds, the Huskies believe they should be 10-2 rather than 8-4. The 63-62 loss to Albany and the 76-73 setback against Nevada still sting.

“You can say we’ve dug ourselves a hole with how we’ve played, and that makes these games coming up even more important,” said Aziz N’Diaye, who had his fourth double-double with 13 points and 12 boards.

Northern Illinois (2-8) entered the game tied for 326th in the RPI rating among the 347 Division I teams, which probably explains why only 7,805 were in attendance at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Washington led 36-25 at the break and was up 60-46 with 5:16 left when NIU scored consecutive 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 60-52.

The Huskies struggled to find consistent shooting all night. They shot 32.3 percent (10 of 31) from the field in the first half and 30.8 percent (8 of 26) in the second.

Washington finished with a season-low 31.6 field-goal percentage that would have been its undoing if not for stellar free-throw shooting.

They shot a season-high 91.7 percent (22 of 24) at the line, while NIU was 8 of 11. However, Washington made just one field goal in the final 9:44.

Washington 67, N. Illinois 57

 N. Illinois (2-9)—Bowie 2-6 3-3 7, Kev. Gray 4-6 2-2 10, Springs 3-8 0-1 6, Balls 1-6 0-0 2, Bolin 2-5 0-0 6, Baker 0-1 0-0 0, Mader 0-1 0-0 0, Cravatta 0-1 0-0 0, Kei. Gray 2-3 1-2 5, Nader 7-16 1-1 18, Davis 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 22-56 8-11 57.

Washington (8-4)—Simmons 1-5 1-2 4, N’Diaye 5-7 3-4 13, Gaddy 3-7 4-4 12, Suggs 3-11 2-2 9, Wilcox 5-14 8-8 22, Stewart 0-0 0-0 0, Andrews 1-6 0-0 3, Jarreau 0-3 2-2 2, Kemp, Jr. 0-4 2-2 2. Totals 18-57 22-24 67.

Halftime—Washington 36-25. 3-Point Goals—N. Illinois 5-12 (Nader 3-6, Bolin 2-3, Bowie 0-1, Springs 0-1, Balls 0-1), Washington 9-25 (Wilcox 4-10, Gaddy 2-4, Simmons 1-1, Andrews 1-5, Suggs 1-5). Fouled Out—Kev. Gray. Rebounds—N. Illinois 30 (Kei. Gray, Kev. Gray 5), Washington 42 (N’Diaye 12). Assists—N. Illinois 11 (Baker 4), Washington 14 (Gaddy 6). Total Fouls—N. Illinois 20, Washington 15. A—7,805.



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