Terrence Ross scored 24 points, Tony Wroten added 22 points and Washington advanced to the semifinals of the NIT, holding off a late rally from Pac-12 rival Oregon for a 90-86 win on Tuesday night in Seattle.
Washington will make its second visit to Madison Square Garden this season after playing two basketball games in New York back in December against Marquette and Duke. The Huskies will face the winner of today’s quarterfinal between Minnesota and Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday.
Washington (24-10) turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 10-point lead with 7:22 left after C.J. Wilcox hit an open 3-pointer from the wing. Wilcox’s 3-pointer capped a stretch of 18 straight points for the Huskies scored by Wilcox, Wroten or Ross. Oregon cut the deficit to 84-82 with 42 seconds left, but Wilcox hit six free throws to clinch the victory.
Olu Ashaolu led Oregon (24-10) with 20 points and E.J. Singler added 19.
Washington became the answer to a trivia question when it became the first regular-season champion from a Power Six conference not to be selected for the NCAA tournament. But instead of sulking, the Huskies took a sense of seriousness to the NIT, although their opener against Texas-Arlington was a bit tighter than anyone in purple wanted. They routed Northwestern in the second round, and then used a raucous home crowd to oust the Ducks in the first meeting between the schools in any postseason tournament.
Ross tried to personally pull the Huskies away, scoring eight straight points for Washington midway through the second half that included a difficult turnaround jumper in the lane while being fouled that induced a rare bit of outward emotion from the quiet sophomore. Wilcox later hit an open 3 from the wing and Washington had its largest lead at 75-65 with 7:22 left, capping a 9-0 run.
Garrett Sim hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 80-74 with 3:33 left and the Ducks had the lead down to four when Wroten had a basket waved off on a charging call with 2:33 left. But Ashaolu missed a tough reverse underneath and Aziz N’Diaye, a 38 percent free-throw shooter banked in one of two to get the Huskies’ lead back to 82-77. Wilcox lost control of his dribble out of bounds for a turnover on Washington’s next possession and Sim scored on a drive to cut the lead to 82-79. Ross and Wroten both missed chances for Washington, but Singler was called for charging into Abdul Gaddy and fouled out with 55.4 seconds left.
The ensuing inbound play nearly turned into another UW turnover, but the scramble ended up in a Wroten dunk on a breakaway. While the Huskies were celebrating, Devoe Joseph hit a 3-pointer and Oregon used its last timeout with 42.4 left down 84-82. Wilcox hit four straight free throws sandwiched around Joseph missing a 3 and UW was headed back to New York.
UMass 72, Drexel 70: Chaz Williams scored 20 points and the Minutemen (25-11) rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to defeat the Dragons (29-7) and former Minutemen coach Bruiser Flint 72-70 in a NIT quarterfinal at Philadelphia.