For the first time in six years, Washington was swept during its Bay Area road trip.
It hadn’t happened since January 2007. In most years, the Huskies are able to salvage a split or get the sweep like they did last year.
But this time, Washington followed Wednesday’s 82-56 loss at California with a 79-67 setback on Saturday at Stanford.
Perhaps coach Lorenzo Romar summed things up perfectly when he said: “We didn’t totally stink it up. The Cal game, we did. But we came back, we played better tonight. Not good enough to get the win. I don’t know how much we take from (the road trip). We’ve just got to regroup and get back home.”
It was a long week in Northern California for the Huskies who flew out Tuesday and returned Sunday morning.
The two losses takes the luster off UW’s 3-1 start in the Pac-12. At 3-3, the Huskies (11-8 overall) are tied with Utah for sixth in the conference. UW beat the Utes 59-57 and that win is looking better, considering Utah crushed No. 25 UCLA on Saturday. It’s never too early to think about Pac-12 Tournament seeding and at the moment, UW is the sixth seed and it would play Washington State in the first round. Ideally, Washington wants to finish among the top four teams in the conference because they receive a first-round bye.
But perhaps more pressing is UW’s defense.
Cal shot 55 percent from the field and Stanford converted 54.2 percent of its field goals. That’s not a winning formula. Making the situation more complicated, the Huskies fouled the Cardinal at an alarming rate. It’s a slow death if you’re going to allow a team to make over half of its shot. It’s downright jumping off a cliff if you put them on the line 34 times.
And if those things weren’t bad enough, Washington couldn’t keep Chasson Randle out of the lane. The new defense is supposed to stop dribble penetration, which was a problem early in the season. However, the 6-2 guard routinely blew past UW defenders and met little resistance in the middle. He made frequent trips to the basket where he either got a layup or drew a foul.
Randle converted 11 of 15 field goals and he was 10 of 13 at the free throw line.
Washington’s four-guard lineup was good enough to beat Arizona State, Utah and Colorado, but in the past two games the Huskies look small. They can take solace in winning the rebounding battle 34-33 against Stanford and scoring more points in the paint (40-38).
But for the second straight game, an opposing team had two front line players finish with double-double performances. On Wednesday it Richard Solomon (13 points and 12 rebounds) and David Kravish (11 and 11). On Saturday it was Dwight Powell (17 and 10) and Josh Huestis (13 and 10). That’s not a winning formula.
The Cardinal big lineup pushed the Huskies to the perimeter where they were 5 of 20 on three-pointers. Against Cal, UW was 2 of 14 behind the arc.
You have to wonder how much longer can Romar depend on the four-guard lineup. Especially late in the season when bodies are bruised and tired.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Gotta love Shawn Kemp Jr.’s honesty. When asked if he thought Saturday would be the game when he’d have a breakout performance, he said: “Out of the blue. You go out there. You do what you got to do. Sometimes it’s like this and sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want it to.”
Kemp delivered a season-high 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He said he most pleased with the six rebounds, which tied a season high. Kemp, who played 19 minutes, said he’s feeling as good as he has since being diagnosed with Graves disease. Romar said if Kemp continues to play the way he did Saturday, then the 6-10 forward will get more minutes. Romar said he’s not ready to scrap the four-guard lineup.
— Big game for Nigel Williams-Goss, who once again casually flirted with a triple double. He scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half. He also had 7 rebounds and 6 assists in 35 minutes with just 1 turnover. He also made 3 of 5 three-pointers.
Williams-Goss on the being swept in the Bay Area: “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board. We know we’ve got to come back. We’ve got to put it behind us. We know we can’t let it carry over to our next two games at home. We’ve got to come prepared for a hard-working week at practice.”
— Desmond Simmons finished with eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. It was his best game in the last six outings. He never strayed too far from the basket, which allowed him to get a couple of easy baskets. Perhaps Simmons’ most important shot was a mid-range jumper on the baseline off an assist from C.J. Wilcox late in the first half.
— And speaking of Wilcox, he entered the game second in the Pac-12 in scoring. However, he was held to a season-low nine points. His previous low was 14. Wilcox did a nice job as a playmaker and had four assists. Still, the Huskies need his scoring. And he’s got to be more creative without the ball and drawing fouls. Wilcox has taken just six free throws in the past six games. He didn’t take a foul shot Saturday, which is something that’s happened five times this season.
— When Andrew Andrews starts knocking down open three-pointers with consistency, , the Huskies will be become a nearly unstoppable offense. Wilcox draws a lot of attention, which forces the defense to leave somebody open on the perimeter. On Saturday that person was Andrews and he went 0 for 5 on three-pointers. Andrews also threw himself into Stanford’s big front line and little success. The officials didn’t reward him with fouls and he had eight points. He was 4 of 8 on shots inside the arc and 4 of 13 overall.
— It’s hard to say if Perris Blackwell broke out of his three-game slump. Not sure if nine points and two rebounds constitutes a breakthrough. Still, it was his best outing in the past four games. However, Blackwell was in foul trouble once again and limited to 20 minutes. He’s committed at least four fouls in seven games.
— Mike Anderson hit his first shot – a three-pointer – and you got the feeling that maybe he was due for a big night. But then he missed his next four shots and didn’t score again. Anderson gave up six inches to Powell and he had his hands full with the Stanford forward. Anderson fouled out in 24 minutes. He had six rebounds.
— Darin Johnson looks as if he’s hit the proverbial freshman wall. He was scoreless in 12 minutes.
— Freshman Jahmel Taylor played the final minute.