Romar Takes the Blame in UW Loss

Lorenzo Romar (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

SEATTLE - Albany's Mike Black scored on an arching layup from the left side of the key with two seconds left to propel the Great Danes to arguably their finest win in the history of their program - a 63-62 triumph over the Washington Huskies in front of crowd of 7041 at Alaska Airlines Arena Tuesday night.

After a nifty lay-in with the Huskies down three, a C.J. Wilcox three pointer with 1:41 remaining tied the game at 58. Moments later, two Andrew Andrews free throws gave the Huskies a slender lead. But the Great Danes weren't done. Reserve freshman Peter Hooley nailed a clutch three pointer from the corner giving the Albany a one point advantage with 29 seconds remaining. Twelve seconds later UW's Aziz N'diaye stepped to the free throw line and the career .407 shooter from the line promptly bricked both free throws. But senior guard Abdul Gaddy was there to pick up the scraps, attacking the basket and sinking a contested lay up attempt to give Washington a 62-61 lead with 18 seconds in the game.

Washington's inability to stay in front of their man finally put them down for good as point guard Mike Black attacked the basket for an contested lay in past Wilcox and guard Hikeem Stewart.

"We were anticipating a lot of switches, we were trying to switch everything," Wilcox said after the game. "They just cleared it out really nicely. We tried to force him [Black] left—we always try to force off-hand—but he made a play.

Game over. Black led all scorers with 22, followed closely by teammate Jacob Iati with 20. Iati was 6-12 from behind the arc. Gaddy was UW's leading scorer with 16 and Aziz N'Diaye and Wilcox were the only other Huskies to score in double-digits with 13 and 11 points respectively. N'Diaye tallied his seventh double-double of his career.

"Give that Albany team a lot of credit," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "They were gritty, they ran their offense in the second half to perfection. Give them a lot of credit. They stuck with it on the road. They did a very good job. Aside from that, I take full responsibility for what just happened. That's on me. Can't place the blame anywhere else. We should have done a better job of defending them, especially down the stretch, and we didn't. And that's my responsibility, to have them better prepared to play against the offense that they were running."

The Huskies (1-1) surrendered their first defeat of the season as their worst fears were realized. During the offseason, several questions/concerns were bandied about regarding this years Husky basketball team - talent wasn't one of them - they had plenty of that. The questions had more to do with their lack of depth and ability to score when the jumpers weren't falling. We saw the affects of both of those deficiencies against the Great Danes Tuesday night.

Generally, the first half was a total disaster. Minutes into the game senior Scott Suggs was felled by an elbow and a follow-up knee to the head, rendering him so woozy he could barely stand straight. After a couple of scary, wobbly moments he was assisted off the floor. Suggs was diagnosed with a concussion and held out the rest of the game. Romar said Suggs remembered the play and didn't have any headaches after it, so he's hopeful the concussion is a mild one and the senior from Missouri will be back to action as soon as possible.

Minutes later Desmond Simmons took a finger to the eye, sending him to the locker room as well, leaving Romar with just seven scholarship players, two of whom were in foul trouble. What followed was one of the uglier halves seen in recent memory at Hec Ed. With a lineup of Gaddy, Stewart, Andrew Andrews, Martin Bruenig and Aziz N'Daiye (who was saddled with two fouls early in the period) the Huskies sputtered, trying with little success, to generate any sort of offense.

We're it not for the dominating play of N'Diaye, Albany might have run away with the game at that point. Despite the two fouls, the senior from Dakar, Senegal dominated the paint. But that was pretty much the only positive of the half. Everything else stunk. This was one of those times when you look toward your upperclassmen to carry the team through rough waters, but that didn't happen. Wilcox couldn't hit anything, connecting on just one of his eight field goal attempts in the first half. Gaddy scored eight points, but it was a quiet eight - not a 'put the team on his back' eight points, at any rate. They also coughed up the ball, surrendering eight turnovers while connecting on just three assists during the first 20 minutes of play.

With Suggs and Simmons out with injuries and starter Jernard Jerreau saddled with three fouls, Stewart and Martin Breunig were Romar's only option. The drop off in experience and savvy was painfully apparent as both contributed little to the cause. The Huskies ended up shooting just 40 percent from the field while missing all five three pointers they attempted, trailing at half time 31-27.

The Huskies started the second half in better fashion as Wilcox intercepted a pass on the first possession out of the break, finding a streaking Andrew Andrews who was fouled on the layup attempt. On the subsequent UW possession, Andrews found an open Gaddy who calmly drained his first three pointer of the game. The Huskies retook the lead moments later.

Then a funny thing happened. With the Dawgs up one, Gaddy caught the ball off bench bound pass and lobbed up a textbook alley-oop to Wilcox for a wide open dunk.

Just like that, they seemed to get their swagger back.

After a disappointing opening night against Loyola, Simmons, freshly bandaged above his right eye, came roaring back with a vengeance. During The Opening minutes of the second half, he was at his scrappy best, ripping away offensive rebounds. He scored six quick points while reasserting Washington's physical advantage. but it didn't last.

"We were definitely flat," Romar said of the push at halftime to inject some pace and energy into the game. "There's no doubt. In the second half we came out with energy. We went up eight. Then we would play good defense until the end of the shot clock and someone would get away from us, or we didn't guard the ball screen properly. There we go, a bucket here, bucket there, next thing you know it's a three point game, and tie game."

The Great Danes regained their composure, closing the gap after the Huskies had pushed their lead to seven. Albany reclaimed the lead with 4:30 to go in the game.

"I've been here 12 years," said Albany Head Coach Will Brown after the win. "We won at Utah the year after or the year before they had gone to the Elite Eight, possibly. I think it was the first year that (Rick) Majerus wasn't coaching, so that was probably, outside of going to the NCAA tournament twice, which we did in '06 and '07. This is obviously the biggest, single game that we've ever won, that's for sure. We've only been Division-1 for 12 years."
Statistics:
Points: Gaddy 16, N'Diaye 13, Wilcox 11, Andrews 9, Simmons 6, Jarreau 5, Stewart 2
Minutes: Wilcox 37, Andrews 36, Gaddy 33, N'Diaye 30, Simmons 24, Jarreau 17, Stewart 12, Breunig 9, Suggs 2
Rebounds: N'Diaye 11, Simmons 6, Gaddy 5, Jarreau 4, Wilcox 4, TEAM 4, Breunig 3, Andrews 1, Suggs 1
Assists: Andrews 4, Gaddy 3, Wilcox 2, Stewart 1
Steals: Gaddy 2, N'Diaye 1, Simmons 1
Blocks: N'Diaye 2, Wilcox 2

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