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Huskies grab victory on Senior Day with second-half spurt

Huskies grab victory on Senior Day with second-half spurt

Huskies grab victory on Senior Day with second-half spurt -

Guard C.J. Wilcox drives down the court after a steal in the first half of Washington's 82-75 win against USC.

Photo by Joshua Bessex

Almost an hour after the final horn sounded Saturday evening on the Washington men's basketball team's win over USC, C.J. Wilcox was still in his jersey. He posed for photos with fans and signed autographs. After he finished with the fans, he stuck around, sitting in the stands of Hec Edmundson Pavilion with his family and friends for just a little while longer. Even after walking up the stairs toward the exit, he waited with his five-year-old brother by his side. He shared a hug with his mother.

It's been a long five years for Wilcox on Montlake, a couple more moments couldn't hurt.

In his final season with the Huskies (17-14, 9-9 Pac-12), Wilcox has been stellar, leading the team in scoring, 3-point shooting, and minutes played. In his final regular-season game for the Huskies, he led them on a 15-0 run that sealed an 82-75 victory over the Trojans.

Seven of the UW’s 15 unanswered points in that stretch came from Wilcox, who scored 12 points within the first seven minutes of the second half. He ended his UW home career on a good note, starting aggressively and finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks, to just one turnover.

"He came out with a really aggressive mindset," head coach Lorenzo Romar said. "You could just see that right away. You look at the fact he had three steals and eight rebounds, it just shows he was aggressive. He was determined today.”

Wilcox said he and the Huskies were determined to not repeat the sluggish second-half start that cost them a win against UCLA on Thursday. Mission accomplished.

“We came out in the second half and really turned it up defensively,” Romar said. “The way we came out in the second half on the defensive end was the difference in the game.”

The Huskies forced the Trojans into three turnovers in their first four possessions of the second half, and they didn’t allow the Trojans to score until the 15:32 mark. USC committed 14 turnovers in the game.

With a 22-3 run to start the second half, the Huskies went up by as much as 17. Then USC’s full-court press briefly derailed the UW offense and helped the Trojans cut the lead down to five with 4:41 left in the game. But freshman Nigel Williams-Goss hit a 3-pointer on the next possession that put the game out of reach for the Trojans.

When Williams-Goss fouled out with less than four minutes left, he had seven points and nine assists, which helped him set the UW freshman single-season assist record at 137. Andrew Andrews had 19 points and eight rebounds to just one turnover. Forward Shawn Kemp Jr. was the UW’s third double-digit scorer of the night with 12 points.

With the regular season officially over for the Huskies, they turned their attention to the Pac-12 tournament, which starts Wednesday when the Huskies play at noon against Utah at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. An automatic berth to the NCAA tournament awaits the conference tournament champion and to get there, the Huskies have to win four games in four nights.

The end of Wilcox’s UW career is coming, but like his final moments after the game Saturday, he wants it to last as long as possible.

“We had some trials and some adversity we had to get through [this season],” Wilcox said. “But our guys are confident we can go get four in a row.”

Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21

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