The Washington Huskies have lost five games this season, and in three of the four following games, they not only won, but won big.
They followed back-to-back losses to No. 8 Kentucky and No. 2 Michigan State at the Maui Invitational with a 27-point win over Long Beach State. Then they followed a loss at Texas A&M with a 28-point win over San Francisco and a loss at Stanford with a 21-point win at California.
Tonight, the Huskies will try to do something similar when they visit Oregon State just four days after an 87-80 loss at Washington State.
“When you lose – especially a game that your team feels like you’re supposed to win – and then the performance that we have the next game we really want to come back with just unbelievable focus and, the things that we did in those games that we lost, get those right,” UW junior Darnell Gant said.
Others agreed losses can be a wake-up call for the next game. And coach Lorenzo Romar admits he’s seen that quality in this team.
“When we do bring it, obviously we play at a high level,” he said. “And the one loss we had in conference, our guys were really focused the next game.”
That could be sobering news for the Beavers, who already are dealing with a three-game losing streak.
However, OSU coach Craig Robinson said Washington’s weekend loss didn’t cause any particular gulp.
“Some teams play better after a loss, some teams play worse after a loss,” he said. “So I don’t even put that into my analysis matrix. We just have to go out and play as well as we can when you’re playing the first-place team in the conference.”
When the teams met in January, Washington was coming off an 18-point win over Oregon and followed that with a 103-72 mauling of the Beavers.
That was Washington’s eighth straight win over Oregon State.
However, the Huskies acknowledge that for all that success, games never feel easy against Oregon State’s aggressive trapping zone. And now UW is coming off a game when it had considerable trouble with Washington State’s pack-it-in zone.
In that game, UW’s three leading scorers – Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday – combined for 8-for-33 shooting from the floor, and the Huskies committed 24 turnovers.
Robinson isn’t expecting a repeat performance.
“I think the way we have to look at it is it’s an oddball game that kind of stands alone,” he said. “What we want to try and do is more of the stuff that we did in the first half of the first time we played them (when UW led by only a point).”
Meanwhile, Romar and the Huskies point out that they did manage 80 points against that WSU zone despite an off night shooting.
“Cal zoned us, Oregon zoned us, Oregon State zoned us – that wasn’t the first time we were zoned this year,” Romar said. “Those same teams will zone us again in the second half. We’ve done pretty good against zones.”
Playing a Sunday game on a travel week gave UW less time than usual to prepare for the Beavers’ zone, which is unlike the others.
Even at that, the Huskies say they welcome the opportunity to get back on the court quickly to make amends for the one they believe they let get away.
“It (is tough) when you lose and you got days when you just think about it,” Thomas said. “It’s more fuel to the fire, though. It makes you want to do that much more and work that much harder, especially in practice. Coming into the game (tonight), you just want to take it out on the next opponent. Hopefully, we have that mindset and just bounce back.”