SEATTLE (AP) -- Somewhere between the disappointment of becoming the answer to a trivia question and beginning the NIT, Lorenzo Romar found the words and reasons to motivate Washington into taking a consolation tournament with seriousness.
Three wins later, Washington is headed back to New York City for the NIT semifinals.
Terrence Ross scored 24 points, Tony Wroten added 22 points and Washington held off a late rally from Pac-12 rival Oregon for a 90-86 victory Tuesday night.
Washington (24-10) will make its second visit to Madison Square Garden this season after playing two games there last December against Marquette and Duke. The Huskies will face the winner of Wednesday's quarterfinal between Minnesota and Middle Tennessee State on March 27.
``Once the NIT selection was done coach was telling us that, `I know you don't want to be here but if you keep winning it's going to get more and more exciting,''' Wroten said.
Washington became the first regular season champion from a power six conference not to be selected for the NCAA tournament. But instead of sulking, the Huskies took a sense of seriousness to the NIT, although their opener against Texas-Arlington was a bit tighter than anyone in purple wanted. They routed Northwestern in the second round, and then used a raucous home crowd and the motivation of avenging a 25-point loss at Oregon in February to oust the Ducks in the first meeting between the schools in any postseason tournament.
Ross seemed extra motivated by the chance to play on the New York stage one more time as his name continues to get tossed about as a first-round pick if he forgoes the rest of his college career and enters the NBA draft early. He made 9 of 18 shots and hit three 3-pointers after scoring a career-high 32 against Northwestern.
``We're still upset that we get a (NCAA) bid and could have, but we all forgot about it and focused on this championship that we're after,'' Ross said.
Olu Ashaolu led Oregon (24-10) with 20 points and E.J. Singler added 19, although only four came in the second half. Devoe Joseph added 12, but continued his struggles shooting in Seattle, making just 4 of 15 shots. Joseph's worst shooting game of the season came on New Year's Eve in Seattle when he went 1 of 13 and finished with four points.
``The seniors didn't really want to end this in a loss, we wanted to go to New York, but Washington really played well tonight,'' Singler said.
Ross tried to personally pull the Huskies away, scoring eight straight points for Washington midway through the second half that included a difficult turnaround jumper in the lane while being fouled that induced a rare bit of outward emotion from the quiet sophomore. C.J. Wilcox, who finished with 17 points, later hit an open 3 from the wing and Washington had its largest lead at 75-65 with 7:22 left, capping a 9-0 run.
``That was a killer for us. We just really gave into it there. No communication, read certain screens wrong, made too many mistakes,'' Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
The Ducks scored 108 points in their second-round win over Iowa and would not go away. Garrett Sim hit a 3 to cut the deficit to 80-74 with 3:33 left and the Ducks had the lead down to four when Wroten had a basket waved off on a charging call with 2:33 left. But Ashaolu missed a tough reverse underneath and Aziz N'Diaye, a 38 percent free-throw shooter banked in one of two to get the Huskies' lead back to 82-77. Wilcox lost control of his dribble out of bounds for a turnover on Washington's next possession and Sim scored on a drive to cut the lead to 82-79. Ross and Wroten both missed chances for Washington, but Singler was called for charging into Abdul Gaddy and fouled out with 55.4 seconds left.
The ensuing inbound play nearly turned into another Washington turnover, but the scramble ended up in a Wroten dunk on a breakaway. While the Huskies were celebrating, Joseph hit a 3 and Oregon used its last timeout with 42.4 seconds left down 84-82. But Wilcox hit six straight free throws and the Huskies were headed back to New York.
Gaddy finished with 11 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Wilcox added 17 for the Huskies, who took two of three from the Ducks this season. Tony Woods added 15 for the Ducks.
``Our guys have been focused but have not been uptight about this,'' Romar said. ``There is a pretty good demeanor about this group here and it's showed so far in our three games.''
- Oregon’s 24 wins in 2011-12 were the most since the 2006-07 season.
- The Ducks averaged 89.3 points per game over the last six games of the year.
- The Ducks ended their season with a 14-5 record in games decided by fewer than 10 points (6-4 in games decided by less than 5 points).
- It was just the second loss this season when recording fewer turnovers than the opponent (UO 7, UW 8).
- It was just the fourth time this season that UO lost despite scoring 70+ points (17-4 when that occurred). It was just the second time all season the Ducks lost when scoring 80 or more points (3-2 when that occurred). In eight of UO’s 10 losses in 2011-12, the opponent scored 70 or more points.
- Olu Ashaolu (20 points) led the team in scoring for just the third time this season. It was the 13th time he reached double-figures and the third time he tallied 20 or more points. Ashaolu scored in double-figures in six out of UO’s last nine games.
- Tony Woods established a new career-high with 15 points. His seven made field goals were also a new career best. Woods scored 10+ points in three out of the last four games.
- E.J. Singler (19 points) reached double-figures in scoring for the 28th time (in 34 games) in 2011-12. Singler (nine rebounds) also led the team in rebounding for the 12th time (34th time of his career).
- Devoe Joseph (12 points) scored 10 or more points in all but one game this season (27 of 28 games in 2011-12).
- Garrett Sim and Devoe Joseph combined to record 11 assists and just two turnovers.
- Sim ended his career at UO having played in a school record 136 consecutive games.
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