Updated Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Failing to deliver knockouts after twice building double-digit leads, Washington needed to slug it out with Jackson State over the final minutes Saturday night.
After the Tigers pulled within three points with 5:24 left, the Huskies held them scoreless the rest of the way to claim a 75-67 win that was more difficult than it should have been.
Coach Lorenzo Romar was in no mood for boasting after UW (6-4) delivered an inconsistent performance against a Jackson State team that fell to 0-8.
"We won," he said at the start of his postgame news conference. "I looked at the score several times when the horn sounded. I saw the score. So we won."
Still the victory felt bittersweet because Washington reverted to bad behaviors that contributed to the team's 4-4 start and three home defeats.
Several Huskies lamented the team's 15 turnovers, JSU's 13 offensive rebounds and the Huskies' lethargic demeanor at times.
"I wouldn't say it's a step backwards because a win right now is a pretty big deal," said C.J. Wilcox, who led the Huskies with 21 points. "But it's not moving forward."
Three other UW players finished in double-digit scoring, including Scott Suggs (17 points). Abdul Gaddy and Aziz N'Diaye each had 12.
Coming off an emotionally charged blowout victory over crosstown nemesis Seattle University on Thursday, the Huskies suffered a letdown in front of 7,836 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
"I don't know how many positives we'll take away from this game," Romar said. "I thought we did a pretty good job of getting the ball inside, but there's not a whole lot of positives tonight that we'll take away and I'm usually a glass-full guy."
The Huskies' biggest lead was 29-13, but they lost control and surrendered an 8-0 run. The Tigers cut their deficit to 33-31, and Washington was ahead 40-34 at halftime.
"Once we get up 16, we need to push it to 24, 25 points," said Wilcox, who also had four assists, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
When asked if Washington has the killer mentality, he said: "Maybe we haven't learned it yet. I think we're coming out with more energy, but we have to learn how to put (teams) away."
With 13:58 remaining, N'Diaye flushed a dunk to give the Huskies momentum and a 56-45 lead.
However, Jackson State needed five minutes to cut UW's lead to 62-57.
"We went through a low," Gaddy said. "We were turning the ball over too much really. Just little things like that: Turning the ball over, not boxing out, guys driving by us."
Tigers guard Kelsey Howard scored 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, but it was Christian Williams who took over late in the game.
He finished with 15 points, including consecutive three-pointers for JSU that cut the deficit to 70-67 with 5:24 left.
The Huskies forced four missed shots and created a turnover to seal the win.
Washington continues its three-game homestand Thursday against Cal Poly (4-4).
Not far in the future the Huskies have four consecutive road games: Connecticut, Washington State, California and Stanford.
"You definitely don't want to look too far ahead, but we know what's coming and we know this isn't how we want to play," Wilcox said. "We're not going to beat those teams if we play like we did tonight."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com. On Twitter @percyallen
|JACKSON ST. 67|
BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Washington guard Abdul Gaddy steals the ball from Jackson State's Christian Williams, back, and Jonathan Lewis in the first half.
BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Washington center Aziz N'Diaye, right, battles with Jackson State guard Christian Williams for a rebound during the first half.