CORVALLIS, Ore. — The Huskies have started a streak. But it’s one they won’t be proud of.
For the second consecutive game, Washington never led and lost to a team that was previously winless in the Pacific-12 Conference.
The first 15 minutes of the game left Washington in a hole well-drillers would envy, and the Huskies never recovered in a 74-66 loss to Oregon State at half-full Gill Coliseum on Wednesday night.
After a 4-0 start to conference play, Washington (12-7 overall, 4-2 Pac-12) has fallen flat. Utah thumped the Huskies at Hec Edmundson Pavilion last Saturday for its first Pac-12 win of the season. Oregon State (11-8, 1-5) came out as engaged as Washington was disengaged to do the same Wednesday.
“This isn’t something that one day we’re going to be able to do it,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We’ve done the right thing. For several weeks we did the right thing, and, out of nowhere, we’ve lost that concentration, lost that edge.”
After being down 20 points in the first half, Washington tracked back to cut its deficit to a single point, down 53-52 and 55-54, before Oregon State settled down and pushed back.
C.J. Wilcox shot a 3-pointer for the lead, but it was long. He finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-for-21 shooting while being tracked much of the game by 6-foot-10 Eric Moreland.
The temporarily tight game in the second half seemed unlikely after a putrid start for Washington. Wilcox missed a free
throw early in the first half, which prompted a rimshot from the drummer in the Oregon State band, the kind of ba-da-bing that follows a punch line. It was fitting because Washington’s play during most of the first half was comical.
Washington committed 10 turnovers. Aziz N’Diaye (10 points and 10 rebounds for his 13th career triple-double) was called for three seconds in the lane. Oregon State ran a four-on-none fastbreak at one point that resulted in a dunk for Devon Collier. Out of a media timeout, the Huskies were about to be called for five seconds when trying to inbounds, so they called time. Out of that timeout, they nearly turned the ball over on the inbounds, narrowly recovered, and Desmond Simmons ended the bumbling possession by missing a wide-open jumper.
Romar called timeout when Washington went down 7-1 with 17:45 to go in the first half. The Huskies’ defenders went under screens against Beavers guards Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson. It was the opposite of what they had practiced and were told prior to the game.
The timeout and reminder during it didn’t help. Washington continued to have difficulty shooting, passing and playing defense. That constricting trio of ineffectiveness left the Huskies down 34-14 after a Collier lay-in.
Searching, Romar subbed three players at once. He switched from man-to-man to zone defense. He tried eight players, none of which were effective until late in the half.
Then, a spark.
The zone slowed down the Beavers. N’Diaye scored in the post out of one of the few clean sets in the first half for Washington. Scott Suggs hit a jumper. Abdul Gaddy, who started the half 1-for-4, hit an elbow jumper when three Oregon State players backed off him and dared him to shoot. He finished 6-for-12 from the field, an improvement from his poor conference shooting in the first five games.
A miss from Oregon State followed and Gaddy hit a running 3-pointer from about 30 feet away to pull Washington within 39-29 at the halftime horn.
Andrew Andrews came up the floor, stuck his hip into an Oregon State defender and handed the ball off to Wilcox early in the second half. Wilcox’s 3-pointer cut Oregon State’s lead to 53-52 and forced a timeout from dejected Beavers coach Craig Robinson.
But, Suggs’ jumper for Washington’s lead was off. Wilcox missed his 3-pointer for the lead. The long rebound led to a run out and dunk for Moreland to push Oregon State back in front 57-54. Each time Washington thought it was getting up, it tripped or was knocked back down by the Beavers.
“Early on, we weren’t committed to what we were supposed to be doing,” Romar said.
And now looms Pac-12 leader Oregon (17-2, 6-0) on Saturday.
©2013 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.). Visit The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) at www.TheNewsTribune.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.