Huskies can’t escape trampling by Buffaloes

Washington can’t get going on offense or defense early in defeat at Colorado

christian.caple@thenewstribune.comFebruary 10, 2014 

BOULDER, Colo.—Greeted by thorough domination in all its forms, the Washington Huskies were all but run out of the Coors Events Center by the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday night.

Just as well. After the way the Buffaloes started this game, the Huskies couldn’t get out of Boulder fast enough.

The Huskies couldn’t defend or make shots, both of those problems evident in the game’s early minutes and throughout an embarrassing 91-65 loss that was never close in the second half.

It was briefly competitive before the Buffaloes opened a 16-point lead almost six minutes into the first half.

“They were just knocking shots down and knocked us back on our heels right away,” Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. “I thought coming in the game, I thought we were pretty focused and ready to play, but their ability to hit shots early kind of pushed us back a little bit.”

Thus caps a miserable string of road games. The Huskies (13-11, 5-6 Pac-12 Conference) lost at hapless Washington State on Feb. 1 and at Utah on Thursday.

Is there an end in sight? Stanford and California visit Washington this week, and both teams have beat the Huskies this season.

Of course, Washington is a much better team at home. The Huskies even beat Colorado there, 71-54, on Jan. 12, the game in which star Buffaloes guard Spencer Dinwiddie tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Colorado (18-6, 7-4), a former Top-25 team, is without Dinwiddie for the rest of the season. Starting forward Wesley Gordon sat Sunday because of a sprained ankle.

It didn’t matter, though, when Askia Booker (20 points), Josh Scott (21 points) and Xavier Johnson (27 points, 10 rebounds) combined to outscore the Huskies.

The onslaught started early.

The Buffaloes scored 10 points before the Huskies got on the board and had a 20-4 lead before the middle of the first half. That got the announced crowd of 9,461 standing and yelling, making it even harder for Washington to mount a meaningful comeback.

“(The crowd) just got going,” said Huskies senior guard C.J. Wilcox, who scored a season-low eight points and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts. “And at that point, like I always say, it’s tough to stop a team once they get confidence and the crowd gets going.”

Washington at least showed signs of making this one interesting, using a 14-6 run to cut the lead to 37-30 after Andrew Andrews made a 3-pointer with 4:11 remaining in the first half.

That was the closest the Huskies would get. Colorado responded by scoring nine consecutive points and led, 48-33, at halftime. The Buffaloes continued bludgeoning Washington in the second half.

“Once your tank’s empty, you’re still down,” said Wilcox, who scored a career-high 31 points the first time these teams played. “So it’s hard to recuperate and keep playing.”

It certainly looked hard. Booker found his way to the rim and drew fouls. Scott, a 6-foot-10 forward, operated with ease in the low block. Johnson made 10 of his 14 field-goal attempts (71.4 percent), including each of his three shots from 3-point range, leading his team’s 9-for-14 effort from beyond the arc.

“We just didn’t come out with the energy and focus we needed to come out with,” Washington freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss said. “And when you’re playing a good team like Colorado on the road, you can’t afford to do that.”

The Buffaloes shot 55.4 percent from the field, and 60.9 percent in the second half, three days after the Huskies allowed Utah to put up a 68 percent second-half clip.

It didn’t help that with Wilcox suffering through a rare off-night, his teammates couldn’t find ways to get the ball in the basket, either. UW shot 32.3 percent (21-for-65) from the field. Williams-Goss led the Huskies with 15 points (5-for-13 shooting), and Perris Blackwell had 10.

Wilcox and fellow starting guard Andrews combined to shoot 5-for-23 from the field. Andrews went 4-for-25 during the two-game trip to Utah and Colorado.

“Sometimes your offense can be just as much a contributor to bad defense, because you’re shooting too quickly, you’re settling, and that other team just stays in a rhythm,” Romar said.

Wilcox said the Huskies still harbor postseason hopes, however far away that might feel now. They finish the regular season with five of seven games at home, where they have not lost a Pac-12 game.

“If there was ever a time to now make a run,” Romar said, “we’ve got to do it.”

COLORADO 91, washington 65

Player of the game: With two of their starters out with injuries (star guard Spencer Dinwiddie and forward Wesley Gordon), the Buffaloes didn’t miss a beat — and that was largely because of Xavier Johnson, who scored a game-high 27 points, had 10 rebounds, made 10 out of 14 field goals (71.4 percent) and connected on all three of his 3-point attempts. Johnson set the tone with two dunks in the opening minutes, and more or less had his way with Washington’s defense the rest of the game.

It was over when: Colorado opened a 20-4 lead with 14 minutes, 33 seconds to play in the first half. After the Huskies trimmed the deficit to seven, the Buffaloes responded with a run that gave them a 48-33 halftime lead.

Stat of the game: The Buffaloes were 9-for-14 shooting on 3-pointers (64.3 percent).

Quotable: “I wouldn’t have guessed if we would have come out on the short end it would have been like this. I thought we were going to be better than we were tonight.” – UW coach Lorenzo Romar

What it means: Opportunities for a road victory are dwindling, and so are UW’s postseason hopes. At this point, an NIT bid would feel like a pretty big victory. The Huskies just don’t have it defensively, and when their offense disappears, their defense becomes even more porous. That’s a recipe for disaster anywhere, but especially on the road against a good team.

Next up: Stanford at Washington, 6 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN2.

christian.caple@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ChristianCaple christian.caple@thenewstribune.com

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