LOS ANGELES — Day after day, the discussion has been the same.
Stop turning the ball over.
Yet, again, turnovers clobbered the Huskies in the end.
Washington lost for the sixth time in seven games, this one a dysfunctional 71-60 defeat to USC in front of a less-than-half full Galen Center on Sunday night to fall to 13-10 overall and 5-6 in Pacific-12 Conference play.
After a putrid start for Washington which helped USC to a 19-point first-half lead, the Huskies trailed 66-60 with 2 minutes, 2 seconds to play. Washington came out of a timeout working on a salvage job, trying to undo the disastrous first 15 minutes it played to open the game.
But, it didn’t even get a shot off. Shawn Kemp Jr. was called for an illegal screen, his fifth personal foul, and the ball went back to the Trojans. Next possession, an Abdul Gaddy turnover. Following that? An Andrew Andrews turnover.
“Can’t do that,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Especially on the road. Especially when they’re unforced.”
The few fans who did show up at the Galen Center on Grammy night watched Washington get off to a brutal start. After Romar had chided his team in practice about turnovers the day before, fifth-year senior Scott Suggs committed one less than a minute into the game.
Suggs later threw a pass to Desmond Simmons, who wasn’t watching him. Gaddy had to yell at Kemp to come up to the high post just to start the offense. Kemp, aggressive early, missed turnaround fadeaways on the baseline and traveled at the foul line.
Meanwhile, the Trojans scored with ease on the way to an 18-6 lead that swelled to 35-16 when USC guard J.T. Terrell dunked then hit a 3-pointer after Washington turned it over again.
The Trojans chose to put 6-foot Jio Fontan on Washington’s leading scorer C.J. Wilcox. Wilcox didn’t get a shot off until there was 6:38 remaining in the half. He did go 3-for-3 from the field once he was able to get up a few attempts.
Outside of Wilcox, Washington was 9-for-27 from the field in the first half, a 33 percent average. Wilcox finished with eight points and seven rebounds. He did not score in the second half.
The Huskies began to reduce the Trojans’ lead late in the half by doing little more than corralling USC misses as it cooled off. USC led 40-29 at the half after Aziz N’Diaye blew a layup with 11 seconds remaining in the half that would have cut Washington’s deficit to within nine. Still, considering the ample carnage during much of the half, the 11-point USC lead didn’t appear all that daunting.
The Huskies trailed 63-58 with 3:33 remaining, thanks in large part to a surge from Suggs. He scored 16 points, all in the second half, when he was 7-for-8 from the field.
Yet, Washington could not find a winning blend.
Another night soiled by a bad start was buried by late turnovers, leaving Washington stalled out and under .500 in conference play for the first time this season.