SEATTLE — When C.J. Wilcox walked out on the court with his family before Saturday’s game for Washington’s Senior Day ceremony, introduced one last time at home as a Husky, he wasn’t going to let the moment overwhelm him.
“It was a real special moment,” Wilcox said. “I was able to share it with my family. They were able to get on the floor and stand where I stand when I play, so it was special in that regard, but I told myself I wasn’t going to get emotional. So I made sure that didn’t happen.”
The school’s No. 2 all-time scorer came out in his final regular-season game and scored 24 points to lead Washington in an 82-75 win against Southern California on Saturday.
After a quiet first half, Wilcox helped spark a big run to start the second that gave the Huskies a double-digit lead they hung on to at the end.
“Special player, special young man,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said of his captain. “It’ll be tough not to see him run up and down, coming off screens and doing his thing here.”
The importance of the moment wasn’t lost on Wilcox, who made all nine of his free throws in the game, along with eight rebounds, two blocks and three steals.
“Last game here,” Wilcox said. “Trying to go out with a bang.”
After an ugly first half for both teams, Washington came out after halftime finally able to take advantage of USC’s mistakes. Trailing by two to start the second half, the Huskies opened the period with a 15-0 run to go up 50-37.
Helped by four USC turnovers in the first 3 1/2 minutes, Washington’s run came largely in transition, highlighted by a big dunk by Shawn Kemp Jr. midway through.
“We were really active,” Wilcox said. “Guys were getting their hands in the lane, getting a lot of steals and that’s when we were able to get on the run and get easy baskets.”
After the first 10 Huskies points, Trojan coach Andy Enfield called timeout and voiced his displeasure to the officials, earning a technical. Wilcox hit both free throws and then capped the run with a 3-pointer.
Even after USC finally scored its first points of the half on a Byron Wesley jumper after 4 1/2 minutes, Washington quickly answered, finding Kemp deep on the inbound pass for a quick layup.
“They got a couple easy baskets and it snowballed from there,” Enfield said. “Once we finally gathered our composure we were able to make it a game and came back and played very hard.”
The Huskies appeared to have the game firmly in control at that point, but USC crept back. The Trojans cut the lead to 72-67 with 4 1/2 minutes left to play, but weren’t able to get closer than that. After Perris Blackwell missed one of two free throws for Washington with just under a minute left, Nikola Jovanovic again cut the lead to five — 80-75 — at the 30-second mark. The Huskies then broke USC’s press, finding Desmond Simmons wide open under the basket for a dunk to seal the win.
Jovanovic had 21 points and eight rebounds and Byron Wesley scored 19 for USC, which lost for the 11th time in 12 games.
The Trojans’ turnovers were a large reason they fell behind, and they started a comeback largely because they quit giving the ball away, with only one turnover coming after the Huskies’ big run.
“A lot of our turnovers are just self-imposed,” Enfield said. “We threw the ball out of bounds, we dribbled it off our foot twice, we came down and instead of crossing the floor we dribbled into two people — Washington plays good defense, but a lot of our turnovers are on us.”
Washington freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss fouled out with four minutes to play — his seven points marked the first time in 11 games he’d failed to reach double-digits.
Very little was on the line for the teams. Coming into the game, Washington was assured of either the eighth or ninth seed in next week’s Pac-12 Tournament and USC knew it would be the 11th or 12th.
“I don’t think we needed any motivation,” said Washington guard Andrew Andrews, who scored 19 points. “We hope to play well in the tournament, so we hoped to use this game to kind of lead us into the tournament in a good way. We didn’t want to have two losses heading into the tournament, so we were all fired up to play.”
The teams looked like they knew there wasn’t much to play for in the sloppy first half. Southern Cal turned the ball over nine times and the Huskies shot just 32 percent before halftime. With all the mistakes, neither team was able to open up more than a four-point lead with USC taking a 37-35 lead at the break.