SEATTLE (AP) – Terrence Ross scored 23 points and top-seeded Washington beat Texas-Arlington 82-72 on Tuesday night in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
C.J. Wilcox added 14 points off the bench and Darnell Gant had 13 for the Huskies (22-10), regular-season champions of the Pac-12.
Washington is the first team to win a regular-season title in a power conference and get left out of the NCAA tournament, and it took the Huskies some time to shake off the disappointment.
“I thought we were ready to play, but I thought we were able to turn it up,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Once we got that feeling, that hit, I think we adjusted.”
LaMarcus Reed III scored 20 points for Texas Arlington (24-9), the regular-season champion in the Southland Conference.
Washington will host fourth-seeded Northwestern in the second round Friday night. The fourth-seeded Wildcats beat No. 5 seed Akron 76-74 earlier Tuesday night.
The Huskies shot 68 percent from the field in the second half and 57 percent for the game. Washington increased a 68-65 lead to 77-65 when it began to rebound efficiently in the second half.
Gant hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to put Washington up by double figures for the first time with just less than 3 minutes remaining. Ross made a 3-pointer and Wilcox a floating baseline runner during the spurt.
“We knew that Texas-Arlington was going to be a scrappy team and we saw that live and up-close,” Romar said.
Much of the second half was tight. Ross rattled in a 3-pointer that was matched by UT-Arlington’s Bo Ingram midway through the half.
“I’m proud of our guys for what they did tonight,” Mavericks coach Scott Cross said. “We won the battle of the boards, outrebounded them by 10. I know some of that’s the fact they shot such a high percentage on us, but still, even with that said, to win that battle is a tribute to our guys. They played as hard as we possibly could.”
Washington’s frontline was in foul trouble much of the night. Aziz N’diaye, the team’s 7-foot center, picked up his fourth foul with 15:35 remaining in the first half. Gant sat much of the first half with two fouls. But the Huskies hung on.
The last play before halftime was indicative of the first half. The Mavericks tipped a loose ball in to tie it 37-all just before the horn sounded and the red light went on. The Mavericks stayed with Washington through the first half because of Reed and rebounding.
Reed had 10 points at halftime, doing the majority of his scoring at the free throw line.
UT-Arlington had more offensive rebounds in the first half, 13, than Washington had total rebounds, 12. Washington led the Pac-12 in rebounding margin during conference play. The Mavericks led the Southland Conference in offensive rebounding and were second in rebounding margin.
Despite the lopsided margin on the boards, Washington took a 32-24 lead with 5:45 remaining in the half on Ross’ dunk. After a poor start, Ross scored 11 consecutive points for Washington.
But the Mavericks rallied behind their rebounding and balanced scoring. Eight players had scored for UT-Arlington by halftime.
Washington was flat at the start, just like the crowd. Ross hit the side of the backboard with a 3-pointer. Tony Wroten committed a charge on the first possession. The Huskies went 1 for 7 from the field in the first 4:21 and trailed 8-4.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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