TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)—Washington coach Lorenzo Romar’s technical foul looked, at first, like a costly mistake.
It turned out to be the motivation for a decisive 11-0 run that propelled the 10th-ranked Huskies to a 79-70 victory over Arizona State on Sunday.
“It kind of got us fired up to see Coach right there with us, fighting for us,” guard Nate Robinson said. “To show that side of him was big for us. The coach said `You see how they’re doing so go out there with your hard hats on and just play, go out there and give me a `W” and that’s what we did.”
Robinson scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half and the Huskies moved back into a tie with Arizona for first place in the Pac-10.
The Huskies (17-3, 7-2) lost 92-83 at No. 11 Arizona on Thursday night. But Washington State upset Arizona on Saturday, clearing the way for the Huskies to regain a share of the conference lead by beating ASU.
Ike Diogu had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Arizona State, his 80th double-digit scoring game in his 80-game collegiate career. Kevin Kruger added 12 points but had five turnovers, while Steve Moore scored 11 and Bryson Krueger 10 for the Sun Devils (15-6, 4-5).
Arizona State committed 21 turnovers against Washington’s tight defense, compared with 11 for the Huskies.
“I thought we did a good job of pretty much everything except handling their pressure,” Arizona State coach Rob Evans said.
Robinson, bouncing back from a sub-par game at Arizona, was 8-of-12 from the field, including 6-of-8 in the second half, and was 2-of-4 on 3-pointers.
“I was knowing it was going in instead of hoping it was going to go in,” Robinson said.
The Huskies got the rough game they expected.
“Coach just said to make sure our defense is tenacious,” Robinson said, “to come out and fight because he knows this game is pretty much a backyard brawl. They play pressure defense like us. That coach recruits hard-nosed players. That’s the kind of basketball we like to play. We play it every day in practice. We foul, we scratch, we claw. That’s how they play.”
Diogu, the Pac-10 leader in scoring and rebounding, had his 11th double-double of the season, but he struggled much of the afternoon. He dropped two wide-open passes inside, missed a dunk, and failed to connect on the front end of a 1-and-1, despite being an 82 percent free throw shooter.
“He’s a great player, and he’s played a lot of great basketball games,” Evans said. “Sometimes people expect him to be perfect. He’s not perfect.”
By far the NCAA leader in free throws attempted, Diogu had only one in this game.
“I guess I just wasn’t being aggressive enough,” Diogu said. “That’s just the bottom line.”
Diogu would not concede that Washington was simply a better team.
“I don’t feel like they were better than us at all,” he said. “We can match up with them at every position. We’re just as good as they are, and just as athletic as they are. We just let one slip away today.”
Tre Simmons scored 15 points and Brandon Roy had 12 for Washington. Jamaal Williams added 11 points, six during the decisive 11-0 second-half run.
Washington shot out to an early eight-point lead, but Arizona State stayed close and trailed 34-30 at halftime.
The Sun Devils cut the lead to two twice early in the second half, then the technical foul on Romar resulted in five Arizona State points and briefly gave the Sun Devils the lead.
Romar charged to the baseline to protest an offensive foul call on Bobby Jones and drew a technical from referee Deron White. Kruger made both free throws, then Tyrone Jackson hit a 3-pointer from the corner to put Arizona State ahead 43-41 with 13:46 to go.
But Roy’s three-point play triggered the 11-0 run that put the Huskies ahead for good. Williams, was 4-for-5 from the field, scored the last two of his six in the surge on a rebound to put Washington ahead 52-43 with 11:08 to play.
Robinson’s 3-pointer put the Huskies up 64-54 and his two free throws gave Washington a 68-57 lead with 4:03 to go. Krueger’s 3-pointer cut it to 64-57, but the Huskies went 13-of-14 from the free throw line down the stretch, including 4-of-4 by Robinson, to seal the victory.
Romar said it was his first technical foul in two years and he didn’t deserve it.
“Put it like this,” he said, “I didn’t say anything to him that people close to him wouldn’t have told him at the time.”