It says a lot about how far the Washington Huskies have fallen when coach Lorenzo Romar applauds the players’ resolve after a 78-71 defeat for their seventh straight road loss.
He made a point to say UW didn’t make enough plays at the end to snap the road losing skid, but after chiding their mental toughness days ago Romar commended the Huskies for playing hard until the end.
“Tonight we made progress, no doubt,” he said. “We have to take this, remember it, and have the same focus when we go to Corvallis.”
Progress is not getting blown out by 26, which is what happened the last time Washington played a road game. Progress is also not losing by 13, which is what happened in UW’s previous outing.
And progress is showing the temerity needed to answer a run in a hostile – well, it wasn’t really that hostile due to an announced crowd of 6,792 – environment at Matthew Knight Arena.
After Oregon went on a 10-0 run start the second half, you expected Washington would fold like it’s done so many times in the past – especially on the road. But the Huskies weathered the storm. They erased a seven-point second-half deficit.
With 9:11 left, the score was knotted at 60-60 and it was anyone’s ballgame.
“They were just on a roll,” Romar said. “They continued to make shots. And we weren’t at that point. I know that seems simple, but that’s how it went.”
Oregon scored five unanswered points within a minute and surged ahead 65-60. With 6:47 left, the Huskies trailed 71-63.
“Unlike some other games that we played on the road where we just kind of faded, I didn’t think we faded tonight,” Romar said. “We were a few plays away from getting over the hump, but we didn’t. There were a couple of missed assignments on the defensive end, but offensively we had some golden opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on.”
After Nigel Williams-Goss’ layup, Washington was down three (73-70) with 2:34 left. It was the last basket for the Huskies.
Oregon committed a turnover on the ensuing possession and UW had a chance to pull within a point or tie the game with a three-pointer.
Desmond Simmons had a good look at a mid-range jumper on the baseline, but his shot rattled out. Seconds later, he drew his fifth foul on Mike Moser’s layup. The senior forward from UNLV, who considered UW before transferring to Oregon, converted the traditional three-point play to extend the Ducks’ lead to 76-70 with 1:31 left.
On the ensuing possession, Williams-Goss missed a jumper, but Perris Blackwell collected the offensive rebound and drew a foul. He made 1 of 2 and Washington trailed by five (76-71).
Another Oregon turnover gave the Huskies a little hope, but they wasted time offensively before Mike Anderson launched an awkward-looking three-pointer that missed badly. Two UW players whiffed while trying to foul speedy Johnathan Loyd who collected the rebound and dribbled seven precious seconds off the clock. He capped the scoring with a pair of free throws with six seconds left and down seven, the Huskies never attempted another shot.
Washington had more rebounds (33-21), assists (13-11), field goals (55-51) and fewer turnovers (12-13). The Huskies also did a better job with free throws (19 of 23 compared to 15 of 19). And they weren’t too shabby from the field while converting 43.6 percent from the field.
Defensively, Washington was atrocious. Especially in the second half when it allowed Oregon to shoot 66.7 percent (16 of 24) from the field. The Ducks were 56.9 percent during the game. It’s the third time in the past five games a UW opponent has shot at least 55 percent.
Washington fell to 14-13, 6-8 in Pac-12. The Huskies have lost five of their last six games.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Blackwell had his best game in nearly two months. He finished with 17 points, three shy of his personal best. The last time he had that many points was Dec. 27 against Mississippi Valley State. Blackwell also did a nice job defensively on Oregon’s Waverly Austin, who was scoreless in 11 minutes. As good as Blackwell was, he’ll lament a turnover with 3:11 remaining when UW trailed 73-68. He also missed a free throw with 1:07 left that would have pulled UW to within four points.
— So much for Andrews’ scoring slump. After scoring a personal-best tying 21 points last Saturday, the sophomore guard had 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting. In the three previous games before Satureday, he tallied 11 total points. Andrews did a nice job of drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line where he was 7 for 7. He also had a game-high seven rebounds. In the previous game, he had eight boards. The only that that didn’t go well for Andrews was his three-point shot. He was 0 for 4 behind the arc.
— Simmons will lament the missed mid-range jumper and the phantom foul in the final two minutes. However, he did more good than harm. He scored 12 points on 6-for-12 shooting. It was odd watching Simmons miss the baseline jumper at the end considering he nailed a shot from the same spot last week that helped UW beat Stanford at home.
— Williams-Goss accounted for five of Washington’s 13 assists. He also had three of UW’s 12 turnovers. It’s the sixth straight game he’s had at least three TOs. Williams-Goss needed 12 shots to score 12 points.
— Wilcox limped out of the locker room and his status for Saturday is uncertain. He bruised his tailbone after a nasty fall in the first half. Despite the injury, Wilcox played 34 minutes. Still, he wasn’t close to 100 percent. He moved slowly and grimaced occasionally. The bruise might explain another slow start. He was 1 for 4 and accounted for just two points for the second straight game. Wilcox finished with nine points on 2-for-8 shooting (1 of 4 on three-pointers), which was the third time in the past four games he’s been held to fewer than 10. He also had four assists and three turnovers. Washington managed just three baskets in the final nine minutes and Wilcox was 0-1 during that stretch. He was 2 of 4 on FTs and had an assists, but his last field goal attempt was at the 6:33 mark.
— Mike Anderson has got to be more aggressive looking for his shot. His first instinct is to pass. He also gets in trouble when he dribbles into the lane and is unable to find an open man. Anderson was 0 for 3 from the field, 0 for 2 on three-pointers and 1 for 2 at the line for one point. He also had four rebounds adn two turnovers in 19 minutes.
— It’s going to be important in these four remaining regular-season games for Darin Johnson to find something that works for him because the freshman guard has been out of sync since the Jan. 2 Pac-12 opener when he scored 10 points. Since then it’s been nothing but head-scratching displays. He’ll rush shots. Commit turnovers. Or dribble into trouble. Johnson hasn’t played more than 17 minutes – he had 10 Wednesday – since the conference opener, but the Huskies are going to need him next season. He’s a leading candidate to replace Wilcox and it will be nice for him to go into the offseason feeling good about something that went right down the stretch.
— Shawn Kemp Jr. started for Blackwell, but he played a season low seven minutes. The junior forward just hasn’t gotten a feel for how referees are officiating games this season. He collected three fouls in the four first-half minutes. He played just three minutes in the second half before picking up his fourth with 16:51 left. He left the game and didn’t return. Kemp didn’t contribute a point and had one rebound. It was the eighth time this season Kemp has had at least four fouls.