Minutes after suffering their first loss of the season Thursday at Texas Tech, several Washington Huskies turned back to last season.
That 2008-09 team had opened with a pair of victories. But when those Huskies left home for the first time, they were rocked by consecutive losses to Kansas and Florida.
However, coach Lorenzo Romar and almost every player on that team pointed to those two losses as the turning point of a season that produced a Pacific-10 Conference regular-season championship and ended in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
So, standing in front of their losing locker room in Lubbock, Texas, last week, veteran Huskies vowed to turn that loss into another springboard.
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“We look at it like we returned last year after the Florida loss,” sophomore Elston Turner said. “We didn’t lose in the Pac-10 until the Cal game (after nine straight wins). We’re going to try to do that again.”
Turner got the first start of his college career against Texas Tech, contributing 15 points and four rebounds in 31 minutes.
“It feels great: getting a lot of minutes and producing for the team,” Turner said. “I felt like I could do it, and I’m glad to finally do it.”
Turner hit six of 12 shots from the floor, including three of seven 3-pointers.
However, he was 0-for-2 from the foul line, with both misses coming with the score tied and 5 seconds remaining in regulation.
“If you’re knocking 3s from 23-, 24-feet away with people on you sometimes, free throws are (15-foot) shots wide open – you should be able to make at least 80 percent of those,” he said. “They both felt good. Sometimes it just goes that way. You have to just make the next one.”
That next chance could come tonight, when 12th-ranked Washington returns to Hec Edmundson Pavilion to face Cal State Northridge, the defending Big West champion.
Just like last season, the Huskies want to assess what led to their loss and use it as a blueprint for improvement in rebounding, outside shooting, free-throw shooting and especially defensive intensity.
Naturally, they want their next winning streak to begin against the Matadors.
“We definitely want to get a win,” senior Quincy Pondexter said. “We’ve got a hard month ahead of us. We’ve got a lot of games, and we have to grind it out every game.”
Next, the Huskies face a weekend date against Georgetown at the John Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif. Then they return home for dates with Portland, Texas A&M and San Francisco before beginning Pac-10 play Dec. 31 against Oregon State.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE (4-3)
AT NO. 12 WASHINGTON (5-1)
7 p.m., Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
TV: FSNRadio: 950-AM
Series: UW leads, 3-0. The most recent result was an 80-66 win in the 2007-08 season.
Statistical leaders: For CSN – F Kenny Daniels, 19.7 ppg and 2 apg; F Lenny Daniel, 6.6 rpg. For UW – F Quincy Pondexter, 22.3 ppg and 10 rpg; G Venoy Overton, 3.7 apg.
Scouting report: Northridge has won three straight, including a 95-93 win over Idaho on Thursday. In that game, Daniels scored a career-high 39 points, as the Matadors came from 14 points down. … Northridge is the defending Big West Conference champion. A preseason media poll rated the Matadors third this season. … Bobby Braswell, in his 14th season as coach, is a former Oregon assistant. … Washington is coming off its first loss: 99-92 in overtime at Texas Tech on Thursday. In that game, Pondexter scored a career-high 31 points. … UW sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas is 9-of-31 from the floor over his last two games.
Next: 11 a.m. Saturday, vs. Georgetown, John Wooden Classic, Toyota Center, Anaheim, Calif.; FSN.
Don Ruiz, The News Tribune