SEATTLE – The eyes of March may well be on other parts of the college basketball world, but University of Washington sophomore Terrence Ross can bank on the fact that he’s still in the sights of more than a few people that could affect his future.
And the Huskies’ blossoming star made certain that the NBA scouts took notice Friday night.
Ross shook off a sore hip to score a career-high 32 points and keep the Huskies’ National Invitation Tournament train rolling with a 76-55 win over Northwestern.
In a game attended by 5,761 fans – twice the amount that came out for Tuesday’s NIT win over Texas-Arlington – UW (23-10) took another step away from its Selection Sunday disappointment and toward Madison Square Garden. The Huskies need one more win, a Tuesday night home date with either Oregon or Iowa, to advance to the NIT’s version of the final four in New York City.
“I’m just happy to be playing,” UW junior guard Abdul Gaddy said afterward.
“Not a lot of teams are playing right now, and we’re still playing. We’re playing with a chip on our shoulders. We’re still trying to prove we should have been in the NCAA tournament.”
Ross made 10 of 21 shots, including 6 of 14 from 3-point range, to hit career highs in points and 3-pointers made. C.J. Wilcox added 20, and the Huskies bounced back from a tough opener on the boards by outrebounding Northwestern 44-26.
Freshman Tony Wroten Jr. matched team highs with eight rebounds and seven assists but also had five turnovers and spent much of the second half trying to hot-dog defenders with his crossover dribble.
Wroten went 1 of 5 from the field and scored a season-low two points while struggling to solve Northwestern’s zone.
The Huskies survived a horrific 5-of-21 performance from 3-point range in the first half, due in large part to 11 offensive rebounds and a combined 24 points from Ross and Wilcox.
UW used a 13-4 run to pull ahead and go into halftime with a 39-32 lead.
Ross buried the Wildcats (19-14) with a pair of 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the second half, keying a 13-1 run.
He made four of his first five shots after halftime, then watched an open 3-pointer roll in and out before closing out his performance with another 3, a dunk and a few more points down the stretch. Ross hit a pair of free throws to the chants of “two more years” with 3:59 left, then came out for good while the Hec Edmundson Pavilion crowd showered him with applause.
“It’s impossible to stop him,” Wroten said.
Said coach Lorenzo Romar: “When Terrence gets rolling, you almost have to send two guys at him to get the ball out of his hands.”