CORVALLIS, ORE. - The Washington Huskies had prided themselves on how they bounce back from adversity.
But Thursday, their adversities were only compounded.
Washington’s 68-56 loss at Oregon State repeated many of the problems that had haunted the Huskies in their loss at Washington State on Sunday. And their first back-to-back losses of Pacific-10 Conference play also knocked them out of the league lead for the first time this season.
“(Oregon State) did a good job,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They played with energy. They were more physical than we were. They killed us on the boards. They were more active.”
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Just as at WSU, the Huskies shot miserably – except worse this time. This, in fact, was their worst shooting of the season: 32 percent from the field, 24 percent on 3-pointers and 47 percent from the foul line.
Also for the second consecutive game, the team’s top three scorers struggled: Isaiah Thomas had nine points and seven turnovers. Matthew Bryan-Amaning had a team-high 12 points and 10 rebounds, but he shot 5-for-12 from the field and 2-for-6 on free throws. Justin Holiday had four points on 2-for-8 shooting, including 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.
The Huskies (15-6overall, 7-3 Pac-10) even added a problem they didn’t have at WSU: They were overwhelmed on the boards, 47-32.
But all of that is overcomplicating things, Romar implied. All of that could be overcome – but only with full fury and focus on the defensive end.
“We weren’t disciplined on defense tonight,” he said. “We took far too many gambles, far too many chances. We could sit around and talk about what player didn’t get enough shots or what player didn’t step up. If we’re not disciplined on defense, that is on me. That’s my fault. We have to get our guys to play better defense. It’s just that simple.”
The Huskies never looked in rhythm against the aggressive zone of Oregon State (9-12 overall, 4-6).
Early, they depended on their outside shooting – too much so, Romar said. And late, they tried pounding the ball inside to Bryan-Amaning.
With the top three scorers floundering, Scott Suggs stepped up with a career-high 18 points, including 5-for-11 on 3-pointers. But he seemed as frustrated as his teammates.
“We’ve got to turn it around,” he said. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes. We can’t keep doing the same things over and over, because we’re not going to get different results.”
Suggs drilled his final 3-pointer about eight minutes from the end, and it pulled the Huskies to 51-50.
However, UW wouldn’t score again for more than three minutes. And the Huskies would get only one more field goal the rest of the way. .
Because the Huskies’ defensive problems have come in fatal lockstep with their offensive woes, Romar and co-captain Holiday were asked if the issues might be related.
Both denied it.
“Shooting shouldn’t matter if we’re getting stops,” Holiday said. “We’ve had games in the past where we haven’t shot well. We’ve had games when we’ve won when we haven’t shot well. But it’s because we played defense. All I can say is the defense needs to turn around. The defense needs to turn around.”
Washington is one game behind Arizona in the Pac-10 standings.
“We’re not playing like we usually play,” Thomas said. “Usually when you thing about Husky basketball you think about full-court pressing, or getting after it, or getting steals.
“But no, we’re not doing that. We’re taking steps back on the defense end. We’ve just got to fix it ASAP.”