SEATTLE — With all the pleasantry of a jammed finger and stubbed toe, Washington pushed to a 4-0 start in conference play for just the second time in Lorenzo Romar’s 11 years in charge of the program.
The Huskies (12-5 overall, 4-0 Pacific-12 Conference) continued to play scrapping, recovering defense to hold down Colorado in a 64-54 win over the Buffaloes (11-6, 1-4) on Wednesday night in Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Washington shot 33.9 percent from the floor, including 6-for-20 accuracy from behind the 3-point line.
Little outside of C.J. Wilcox — who scored a game-high 25 points — worked offensively. Yet, Washington is still undefeated in conference play. The other time Washington was 4-0 under Romar was 2011. It’s the Huskies’ fourth 4-0 conference start in 35 years.
“Our guys came out active early, focused and set the tone for the rest of the game,” Romar said.
He pointed out things that have evolved from possible trends to powerful themes. This was the fourth consecutive game
Washington has held an opponent under 40 percent shooting from the field. It has out-rebounded three of four opponents, falling just one behind Colorado on Wednesday. Romar also again referenced the immeasurable aspect of chemistry.
“This group is the most coachable and had the best chemistry of any team we’ve had,” Romar said. “We don’t have several guys sulking because they’re not getting more shots.”
Wilcox is getting and making most of his shots. Andrew Andrews drove and kicked a direct-line pass over his head to Wilcox on the left wing for an open 3-pointer that pushed Washington in front by double-figures for the first time, 37-27, with 12:48 remaining in the second half.
But, an unlikely basket from Colorado’s Eli Saltzer — he scored three points in the other two conference games he’s played — helped steady Colorado. He drove past Andrews and scored with his left and was fouled. The free throw helped the Buffaloes hang around, down just 42-36 with 10:36 to play in the game.
That’s when Washington began to get a boost from Jernard Jarreau. With Desmond Simmons on the bench with three fouls, Jarreau drew two separate fouls while pursuing offensive rebounds. He hit two free throws and picked up a steal on the next possession.
A fresh snow-pure elbow jumper from Wilcox pushed Washington back in front by 10, 48-38, and forced a Colorado timeout with 7:12 to go. Washington expanded the lead to 11 and 12 points respectively, as the half wore on without being threatened.
Simmons finished with 12 rebounds. Aziz N’Diaye had 11 and applied permanent coverage in the paint that bothered Colorado all night.
That came after a brutish first half was capped by Wilcox hitting a pull-up just outside the lane with 12 seconds left to give him 11 points and Washington a 28-20 lead at the break. The 20 points were a season-low for Colorado in a half.
Colorado shot 29.2 percent in the first half, in large part because N’Diaye seemed to show up every time a Buffalo turned a corner. Washington blocked four shots in the first half, approaching its average of 4.75 per game.
Meanwhile, Washington’s offense had a strong start prior to a stall of its own. Abdul Gaddy followed his own miss for a left-handed lay-in and an 11-4 Washington lead with 14:47 left in the half. Twice in the first half Colorado called timeouts to try to slow down Washington.
A large reason for the maintenance of the lead was Washington’s lack of turnovers. The Huskies committed just three in the first half and nine overall.
The night devoid of high-end scoring was witnessed by the biggest crowd of the season, 8,184. Washington came into the game averaging 7,466 fans per game at 10,000-seat Hec Edmundson Pavilion.