Updated Dec 2, 2012 - 7:53 pm
Washington beats Cal State Fullerton 74-72
SEATTLE (AP) - Trailing by 14 points at halftime, the Washington Huskies made one adjustment in the second half, and it made all the difference in their 74-72 comeback victory over Cal-State Fullerton on Sunday night.
Desmond Simmons was inserted into the starting lineup, and he brought the energy and also brought the ball down from the boards. He finished with a career-high 18 rebounds _ three off the school record _ as the Huskies (4-3) chased down and passed the Titans (3-4) in the second half.
"It wasn't a miracle or just by chance to happen to get back in this game, we fought back," said Simmons, who also had 14 points. "We were more physical on defense. We rebounded. We eliminated some of their second-chance points. We pretty much geared down and ground it out."
The Huskies didn't take a lead until under three minutes and won the game with 3.6 seconds left on a pair a free throws by C.J. Wilcox.
Wilcox, who had a team-high 21 points, was fouled by D. J. Seeley with 3.6 seconds remaining. It came just after Alex Harris made a 3-pointer from the right baseline with seven seconds left to tie the game at 72.
"We talked about playing smart in the locker room. We had two mental errors there and they ended up costing us," said Fullerton coach Andy Newman on his team's fouls in the final seconds. "That's a really good Washington team. They're going to be really good in the Pac-12, and I'm really proud of how our guys played."
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said the team was lethargic in the first half and "everyone was looking around for someone to step up. He (Simmons) was the one who stepped up, in terms of aggressiveness. All of a sudden when you're playing harder, the ball goes in the basket more often."
Then it was Husky guard Andrew Andrews who stepped up in the final five minutes because regular point guard Abdul Gaddy left the game with cramps. Andrews made three free throws inside of 22 seconds to keep the Huskies ahead. He finished with 13 points.
"He's (Andrews) fearless and he got inside their defense," Romar said. "He would score or drop it off to someone. He was aggressive."
Seeley scored 24 points for the Titans, just seven in the second half.
Trailing by 43-29 at halftime, the Huskies brought the game back in the second half. Andrews hit a 3-pointer at the 16:48 mark for a 10-point deficit, 50-40, prompting Newman to call a quick timeout.
But he couldn't stop the Huskies momentum. With 12 minutes left, Wilcox hit a 3-pointer from the right baseline to draw the Huskies to within six, 55-49.
Fullerton's lead was squeezed to just one point, 55-54, on Wilcox's 12-foot turnaround with 10:22 left.
The Titans built the lead back to seven, 61-54, before the Huskies went on a 13-4 run. Aziz N'Diaye came in from the right side for a crowd-pleasing dunk with 2:54 left, giving the Huskies their first lead, 67-65.
Andrews' two free throws with 21.5 seconds remaining gave the Huskies a 71-69 lead.
Hikeem Stewart then tipped a Titan pass and Andrews stole it. He was fouled with 10.9 seconds left and made one of two.
Harris hit his trey but quickly fouled Wilcox, an 83 percent free-throw shooter.
The Titans entered the game ranked No. 2 nationally in scoring (91.2 ppg), assists (19.8), field goal percentage (53.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (47.3).
The Titans rolled to a 17-4 lead by the 15:42 mark of the first half. Seeley made 12 of his team's 17 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers.
The Huskies settled down to close the gap with a 16-7 run for a 25-20 deficit inside of 10 minutes left. But within two minutes, the Titans built the margin to double figures and rode it to a 14-point lead by intermission.
Seeley had 17 points, the only player for either team in double figures.
The Huskies shot just 30 percent (9 of 30) in the first half.
"We were 9-of-30 from the field in the first half," Romar said. "No one else might think so, when you shoot like that, and things aren't going right, and you find a way to win, that's a huge, huge win for you."
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)