Washington’s annual loss at Utah resembled a few that came before it — the Utes scoring easily, the Huskies helpless to stop them, the final minutes played by walk-ons.
Victory would have been difficult to fathom, even if star guard Markelle Fultz had been available. But as he sat out for the second consecutive game — his knee is still sore, and he is still considered day to day — the Huskies looked like a shell of whatever they were before, losers yet again, this time 85-61 before a crowd of 13,216 on Saturday afternoon at the Huntsman Center.
Their losing streak has lurched to seven games, tied for the longest in the 15-year tenure of coach Lorenzo Romar. Washington’s record is now 9-16, seven games below .500 for the second time in Romar’s career. They are 2-11 in Pac-12 play and must win three of their final five games — the definition of a pipe dream at this point — to avoid posting the worst conference record of Romar’s tenure.
Other than that, everything is fine.
“We’ve just got to really buckle down and talk to guys, tell them ‘Don’t give up now,’ ” said sophomore guard David Crisp, whose career-best 31 points provided something resembling a bright spot. “We’ve still got time to get better before we get into the Pac-12 tournament.”
Crisp’s optimism is admirable, but there is little this team can do to improve without Fultz, and they’ve already proved they can’t win with him, either. Romar said he “definitely” expects Fultz to play again this season, emphasizing that his two-game absence “isn’t his decision. If it was his decision, he’d be out there playing.”
It’s not like the Huskies aren’t trying. They at least showed up on Saturday, building an 18-10 lead after Crisp made three consecutive fastbreak layups. They forced 15 turnovers, 10 of them in the first half, at least showing some interest in defending a Utah team that put 94 points on them last month.
Then that all stopped. Miscommunication on ball screens led to open 3-pointers from the same corner on consecutive Utah possessions. Lorenzo Bonam made the first. Devon Daniels made the next. Those two shots cued a 20-0 run — 20-0! — that included another 3-pointer by Bonam, a 3-pointer by Sedrick Barefield, two easy buckets by forward David Collette and a layup by Daniels.
“We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” Crisp said. “We had turnovers and they scored off every one, and we just never seemed to really bounce back and cut the bleeding off.”
UW forward Noah Dickerson finally ended the binge with a free throw, at which point Utah led 30-19. When Dickerson scored inside a little more than two minutes later, with 3:06 remaining in the half, it represented a milestone: Before that bucket, UW languished for 9 minutes and 41 seconds without a made field goal.
“Without Markelle, we have to play a certain way,” Romar said. “We have to play a little more conservative. And when we were doing that and when we were executing, we were getting great shots. We were taking care of the ball. And when we started to go off on our own a little bit, that’s when we got burned, because Utah is just going to make you pay for it.”
The Utes (17-8, 8-5) led 44-28 at halftime and never led by fewer than 10 points throughout a boring second half. To understand just how bleak this season has turned for the Huskies, consider that Utah won this game by 24 points and didn’t particularly like the way it played. Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who said he “karate chopped” a grease board during a timeout just before the 20-0 run, remarked afterward: “I appreciate all the people coming out and watching us, but the product’s not exactly sharp right now.”
It was sharp enough. Utah made 55.7 percent of its field goal attempts, 11 of 23 from 3-point range and outrebounded the Huskies 39-23. Daniels and Parker Van Dyke each scored 16 points. Collette had 14. Kyle Kuzma had 13. Bonam had 11.
Washington shot 44.6 percent from the field with 16 turnovers. Dickerson joined Crisp in double figures with 18 points, but the rest of UW’s roster combined for just 12 points on 5-for-23 shooting.
“When we execute, when we decide, OK, we’re just going to move the ball and run our offense, we got great shots,” Romar said. “And that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Game in review
Player of the game: Utah didn’t have a player score more than 16 points, but the Utes did have five guys in double figures. Devon Daniels scored 16 on 7-of-9 shooting and had eight rebounds, three assists and only one turnover in 27 minutes. UW’s David Crisp deserves mention here, too, for his career-best 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting.
Play of the game: There wasn’t one. This was an unremarkable blowout with no turning point.
Stat of the game: Nine minutes and 41 seconds: the amount of time that passed without the Huskies making a field goal for a stretch in the first half.
Quotable: “We tried calling a timeout. We talked to them about shot selection, about turning the ball over. We talked about, look, we have to take care of the basketball. For whatever reason, we got antsy and couldn’t do it.’ — UW coach Lorenzo Romar on Utah’s 20-0 run.
What it means: Not much. The Huskies aren’t very good, and they really aren’t very good without Markelle Fultz. They had little chance to win this game with him, and no chance to win it without him.
Up next: Washington vs. Arizona State, 8 p.m. Thursday, Fox Sports 1.
Christian Caple: firstname.lastname@example.org