Lorenzo Romar (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)
SEATTLE - Nevada's Deonte Burton haunted the Washington Huskies last year and he pulled a repeat act Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena, scoring a team-high 29 - including two 3-pointers inside the final three minutes to stifle an 18--point UW comeback and defeat the Huskies 76-73. Burton scored 31 as the Wolf Pack beat the Huskies in overtime by the same margin a year ago in Reno.
"We dug ourselves a hole, too many defensive lapses in the first half," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "In the second half, courageous effort, we guarded a lot better, we missed some easy ones at the end of the game, but we had dug ourselves in such a hole we didn’t have any margin for error down the stretch. A good team came out and beat us with two superhuman three point shots by Deonte Burton...highly contested, well defended shots. Just a heck of a player hit two big shots."
Malik Story added 15 and Devonte Elliott had 11 for the Wolf Pack (5-4), who led 50-32 with 15:22 left in the game.
But Washington (4-4) launched a thunderous comeback, taking a one-point lead on a Scott Suggs 3-pointer with 5:22 left. The two teams traded blows until Burton's 3-pointers down the stretch told the final story. It was Suggs' first action in three games since suffering plantar faciitis in his foot, playing 35 minutes in the game.
"I was surprised, and I think the kids were too," Nevada Head Coach David Carter said of their 18-point advantage. "They got a little complacent and let the (Washington) shooters make some big shots."
But it was Burton's threes, including the second one with 1:58 left that gave Nevada a 73-68 lead, a lead they would manage the rest of the game on the foul line.
"Yes, the first one was a tough shot and the second one I actually tipped," Wilcox said when asked about defending Burton on those last 3-point shots. "I thought it was going to be an air ball but once he got going, he could make shots like that."
"We didn’t panic," added Carter. "I think it goes back to our three close games at home with wins. The guys believed we could win the game. They went up by one and Devonte made a big three-point play. It speaks to our character. (This game) helps us a lot. Washington’s a great team and they are going to win a lot of games in the Pac-12. Any time you can win on the road it boosts your confidence. We’re 4-4, start with a streak hopefully here and then you’re 1-0, and hopefully can run on that."
C.J. Wilcox led four Huskies in double-figures with 21 points. Suggs chipped in 19, Abdul Gaddy 16 and Aziz N'diaye 11 for the home team. Shawn Kemp, playing for the first time in seven games with a knee injury, added five points and four rebounds in 18 minutes.
The Huskies did lose freshman guard Andrew Andrews indefinitely with an ankle sprain suffered during Thursday's practice, and his absence was felt almost immediately when Gaddy was saddled with his second foul just three minutes into the game.
"He could have really helped us defensively," Romar said of Andrews' absence. "We didn’t plan on playing Scott Suggs as long as we did, and Andrews certainly would have helped with that."
Points: Wilcox 21, Suggs 19, Gaddy 16, N'Diaye 11, Kemp 5, Simmons 1
Rebounds: Simmons 13, N'Diaye 8, Wilcox 7, Suggs 4, Kemp 4, TEAM 3, Gaddy 1, Jarreau 1
Assists: Gaddy 5, Suggs 3, Wilcox 3, Stewart 3, Kemp 1
Blocks: Simmons 2, N'Diaye 2, Kemp 2, Suggs 1
Steals: N'Diaye 1, Gaddy 1, Wilcox 1, Stewart 1