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January 15, 2012The Washington Huskies trailed the Washington State Cougars 45-37 with just over 12 minutes remaining Sunday night in the first installment of the Basketball Apple Cup. All hope seemed lost for Lorenzo Romar's squad.
And then it happened.
Sophomore Terrence Ross drove to the basket and seemingly drew a blocking foul.
Not so fast.
A charge was called on Ross, and Romar nearly lost it. OK, he did lose it, jumping up and down in a fit of rage, trying to pull off his jacket and screaming for anyone to hear.
Someone heard him. It was the referee, who charged Romar with the technical foul. Washington State's Faisal Aden hit both free throws and the Cougars went up 10.
"That was the one play that really made me angry," said the normally cool-headed Ross.
"The technical really added fuel to the fire and I really knew that I would have to help the team."
The Cougars may have gotten two free points, but after what happened next, Washington State fans would take that technical foul away if they could go back in time.
Because that technical foul turned Alaska Airlines Arena into Qwest Field led by the 12th Man.
The Huskies, fueled by a suddenly raucous crowd and energetic defense, went on a 26-6 run in the next seven minutes to take a 10-point lead. They never looked back and went on to win, 75-65.
"That's going to be a win I won't forget," said Romar.
But the most important thing his technical did?
It turned Ross into Superman. And an "angry" Superman at that.
Ross dropped an uncanny 26 points in the second half, filled with step back 3-pointers and alley-oop dunks, quite the upgrade over his 1-9 shooting in the first half. He finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
"(Ross is) difficult to stop," said Abdul Gaddy. "Once he gets going, whether you're guarding him close and everything, he's difficult to stop once he gets going."
The Huskies needed that big second-half run because of how poor they played in the first half.
Washington State came out in a zone, and it didn't help that Washington's best shooter C.J Wilcox was out due to a slight stress fracture in his femur, but the Huskies looked like they had never seen a 2-3 defense before.
"We didn't play with a lot of confidence in the first half," Romar said. "It wasn't until we really turned it up on the defensive end that we were able to get excited on the offensive end and begin to knock shots down."
Washington shot 29 percent from the field, 23 percent from the 3-point line and 40 percent from the free-throw line in the first 20 minutes. They scored just 25 points.
Yes, one point less than Ross scored in the entire second half by himself.
Yet, as Romar said, they began to knock shots down. The Huskies shot 47 percent from the field, 54 percent from long-range and 72 percent from the line in the second half.
Romar said after the game that Wilcox is "very doubtful" for next weekend's games against California and Stanford, but they are "hopeful" he will return the following weekend in Arizona.
If the Huskies are going to survive without their second-leading scorer, Romar might just have to "lose it" again.
"I didn't lose it," Romar joked.