Too early for a crossroads? Maybe so, but not sure what else to call it for the Washington Huskies, which lost their second straight game tonight, 74-66 at Oregon State.
The defeat was similar to Saturday’s upset against Utah in that Washington fell behind big early and for a long stretch, the defense was non existent. When Oregon State led 34-14 with 4;33 left in the first half, the Beavers were shooting 58 percent from the field.
The Huskies switched to a 2-3 zone and the change in defensive tactics nearly won the game for them. OSU went cold missing three straight three-pointers. Meanwhile, Washington scored on five of its final six possessions in the first half, including Abdul Gaddy’s long three-pointer as time expired in the half. The Huskies trailed 39-29 at intermission, but they found something to build on.
“If we don’t play with energy, we’re not very good,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “You play with energy, we can compete.”
Washington had two chances to take its first lead midway in the second half. Trailing 53-52, Scott Suggs missed an open jumper. Down 55-54, C.J. Wilcox (far right) misfired on a three-pointer.
Oregon State led 57-55 when Gaddy’s short jumper rattled out at the 9:09 mark and ultimately that was as close as UW would get the rest of the way. A two-point deficit grew to six (61-55), nine (66-57) and 11 (72-61) with 1:07 left.
Romar knows the road ahead is rocky, starting with Saturday’s game at No. 16 Oregon.
He said we’ll soon discover just how good the Huskies are. After the Ducks, Washington hosts No. 6 Arizona on Jan. 31.
It doesn’t sound as if Romar is planning any major shakeups to the lineup or the schemes. Despite failing to crack 70 points for the eighth straight game, he’s not disenchanted with the high-post offense. Romar admitted the Huskies didn’t run it properly early on, but late in the game UW players had open shots that simply didn’t go in.
Romar also said the Huskies didn’t execute the defensive game plan early on. Case in point, Ahmad Starks drained an open three-pointer that gave OSU a 7-1 lead because Gaddy dipped under a perimeter screen instead of fighting over the top.
“You can’t go under the screen, but we went under the screen,” Romar said. “It was mind-boggling why we would do that because last week we weren’t doing that. All of a sudden we come out and that’s just not what we practiced and not what we talked about for 2-3 days. After that we did a much better job of getting the over the top of the screen.”
— Wilcox rebounded from a below-average performance Saturday and scored a game-high 23 points. However, he needed 21 shots to get there. He made nine field goals and was 4 of 11 downtown. Can’t blame Wilcox for jacking up shots because he’s UW’s best scoring option. He has to fire when he’s open or covered. He also did a nice job of creating offense for himself with the dribble and getting into the lane for short jumpers. Wilcox finished with seven rebounds.
— Gaddy cracked double-digit scoring for the first time in seven games. He finished with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting. He too was aggressive with the dribble and attacked OSU’s defense with drives and short jumpers. Gaddy had difficultly against Starks who pressured him defensively and collected a steal in the open court that led to a fast break layup. It was one of three turnovers for Gaddy.
— Aziz N’Diaye recorded his seventh double double (10 points and 10 rebounds), but he didn’t make much of an impact. In fact, he was outplayed by OSU’s Joe Burton who had 13 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists to offset two turnovers. N’Diaye played 32 minutes and made 4 of 5 shots, but Washington had difficulty getting the ball to him. He had three turnovers and UW guards also had at least two TOs on entry passes intended for the big guy that sailed out of bounds.
— Speaking of errant throws, Suggs zipped a pass for Gaddy that landed on the sidelines, which epitomize his performance. He tried repeatedly to create offense for N’Diaye, but didn’t connect. He was also on the receiving end of difficult passes. Otherwise, it was a quiet night for the fifth-year senior co-captain. He took 11 shots – making four – and scored 11 points.
— Playing in his home state for the first time, Portland native Andrew Andrews had an uneven outing. His best offensive move came in the second half when he darted through a lane for a layup. He also dished a career-high six assists and had four rebounds in 23 minutes.
— When Desmond Simmons doesn’t rebound and defend, he’s pretty much ineffective. Tonight he had four rebounds, including three on the offensive glass. OSU is a difficult matchup for the 6-7 forward who gets paired against long, athletic forwards such as 6-8 Devon Collier, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Simmons also had to deal with 6-10 Eric Moreland who had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Simmons was scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting.
— Jernard Jarreau and Shawn Kemp Jr. combined for five points and five rebounds in 11 and seven minutes respectively. Both made 1 of 2 field goals.