Rather than the breakout, signature win that was in their grasp, the Washington Huskies are dealing with a fourth straight defeat following a 57-53 loss against No. 8 Arizona.
It’s the longest losing streak 2008 and the Huskies must be thinking when is it going to end?
Washington did so many things right tonight. It held Arizona to 35.1 field goal percentage. It shutdown the Pac-12’s second-best three-point team and limited the Wildcats to 3 of 18 (.167) shots behind the arc. It forced 17 turnovers and had 10 assists on 21 field goals.
But the Huskies also committed several costly errors.
They committed 17 turnovers that led to 20 points. They shot 36.8 percent from the field and a season low 8.3 percent (1 of 12) on three-pointers. They had just two fast-break points and four points from reserves. They were 10 of 17 (58.8 percent) at the free throw line.
And Washington failed to execute offensively in the final 30 seconds when it desperately needed a play to tie the score.
This could very well be the defining game of the season because the Huskies would have received a huge lift with a victory. However, everything about Washington comes into question now.
You have to wonder why Washington was held to a season-low tying 53 points?
Why can’t the offense run?
Why can’t the shooters C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs (above, right) make shots?
Why is Abdul Gaddy committing six turnovers?
Where was the bench?
Why did coach Lorenzo Romar leave Wilcox in the game when he picked up his third foul with Washington leading 33-28 at the 16:02 mark? Less than two minutes later, UW’s leading scorer collected a fourth foul at 13:53 and was forced to sit down for nearly six minutes. When he re-entered, Arizona led 44-39.
And how in the world did the basketball wind up in Aziz N’Diaye’s hands on the final play when it was designed for Wilcox? The 7-foot center took a three-pointer from the corner – his first three-point attempt in his UW career – that grazed the rim.
Gaddy’s explanation of the final play is equaling baffling.
“I didn’t even know he (N’Diaye) was in the game,” Gaddy said. “I thought somebody else had subbed in. The play was for CJ. I knew that two guys were going to run to him. When I passed it into the corner, I was like, why is Aziz in there? It just happended.”
Of course the final play didn’t matter all that much. The game turned when Wilcox picked up his fourth foul and needed to sit down.
When asked why he didn’t take out Wilcox after the third foul, Romar said: “Because he’s really good, tried to give him a chance to play through it. With his fourth foul he came back in with 8 minutes to go and didn’t foul again.”
Even though Washington reclaimed a 51-50 lead with 2:31 left, you can second guess Romar’s decision because Arizona made it a point to attack Wilcox with Nick Johnson knowing the UW guard didn’t want to pick up another foul.
Johnson dove into the lane and arced a short jumper over N’Diaye to put Arizona ahead 52-51. After both teams traded baskets, Johnson stayed on the attack and drew a foul. He made one of two free throws to set the stage for the game’s most pivotal play.
Trailing by two points, N’Diaye freed Wilcox with a screen and he cut to the rim. Gaddy spotted him and threw a pass that sailed high and wide.
“It was behind the backboard too much,” Wilcox said. “I just tried to save it and ended up turning the ball over.”
Said Gaddy: “It was just a bad pass. I should have got it there.”
Said Romar: “C.J. was wide open. You go back and look at the film and you’ll see he was wide open. We didn’t complete the pass. It was there.”
The same might be said for the game.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— N’Diaye finished with his eighth double double. He had 10 points and 11 rebounds. He also had three blocks and three turnovers in 37 minutes. N’Diaye was a deterrent in the middle, but he also had trouble slowing down freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski, who finished with a career-high tying 10 points and eight rebounds.
— Shawn Kemp Jr. got his first start and made the most of it early on. He scored six points in the opening minutes. Gaddy set him up for many of his layups in the first half. But in the second half, Kemp faded. Scoring seven points is nice, but the Huskies need more than one rebound in 20 minutes.
— Gaddy was a play or two from being the hero tonight. If his alley-oop pass to Wilcox had been more accurate, the Huskies might have tied the game in the final seconds and then who knows what would have happened. Gaddy was more aggressive offensively. He had a season-high tying six assists and scored 10 points, his third straight game with double-digit scoring. He also had a season-high tying three steals and four rebounds. And Gaddy held Arizona’s Mark Lyons to 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting. In many ways, it could have been Gaddy’s best game as a Husky if not for the miscues. However, his six turnovers, which tied a season high, proved to be fatal.
— At least two of Wilcox’s fouls were in transition when he tried to prevent a fast break basket. He’s got to be smarter than to pick up that fourth foul. But it was that type of game for Wilcox, who struggled to break free of Johnson’s suffocating defense. Wilcox missed 12 of 16 shots. He scored just 11 points and was 1 for 5 on three-pointers.
— Trailing 54-51, Suggs didn’t hesitate and drove the ball into the teeth of the Arizona defense and finished with a short jumper. It was Washington’s final basket. It was also a play that should have been many times during the game. Give Suggs credit. He attempted more free throws (5 of 6) than three-pointers (0 for 4) for the first time in 10 games. But when Wilcox was on the bench with four fouls, Suggs was scoreless during the six-minute stretch in the second half.
— Andrew Andrews threw his body around in the first half while trying to get around screens and providing harassing defense. He was a defensive pest. Offensively, the redshirt freshman point guard just didn’t have it. He was 1 of 4 from the floor for two points. He also has three assists and three turnovers in 24 minutes.
— For a couple of series, Desmond Simmons was in his element. He blocked a shot and raced down the court to save a loose ball, which got the crowd going wild. You’d think the 6-7 forward would have thrived in a physical game in which the officials were letting players bang around. Simmons did a solid job of staying in front of Solomon Hill who had 10 points. Simmons finished with three rebounds and two points in 18 minutes.
— Forward Jernard Jarreau played four minutes in first half.