EUGENE, ORE. - The 20th-ranked Washington Huskies admit they didn't see this coming.
Just seven days removed from their roaring 7-1 start in the Pacific-10 Conference, the Huskies flew back home at 7-4 Saturday, as their losing streak grew to three games with an 81-76 loss to Oregon.
“Nobody in that locker room thought we’d be in this position,” junior Isaiah Thomas said. “But anything is possible, and we’ll get out of it. ... Just keep the faith and work hard and we’ll be all right.”
Coach Lorenzo Romar also reminded that seasons that turn around once can also turn around again.
“All I can say is we were 5-2 in 2006, and we lost three road games in a row and we were 5-5,” Romar said. “Everyone else panicked, but we didn’t. We ended up finishing second and going to the Sweet 16.
“So this is not just positive thinking I’m talking about. We have a team that is good enough to bounce back.”
So if not panic, what were the Huskies feeling after their winless Northwest trek through Washington State, Oregon State and Oregon?
“Our guys are frustrated, no doubt,” Romar said. “We have high aspirations. In our minds, hopefully you win the league outright and go on. And I don’t know if that’s going to be able to happen at this point – some other teams would have to help us. But ... I just think that we have a chance to take off like we did last year.”
Romar based that on some improvements he believes he detected against the Ducks that had been missing against the Cougars and Beavers.
He liked the effort. The Huskies won the rebounding battle. He kept his team in a 2-3 zone much of the way and said they defended better. The Huskies also were just two turnovers above the 13 that Romar usually considers the upper end of acceptability.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning bounced back from a couple of tough games with 21 points, five rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal.
“I was just trying to focus on being more aggressive and trying to make things happen,” Bryan-Amaning said. “I know I can get a lot done, it’s just a matter of being productive.”
Justin Holiday also rediscovered his shooting touch, hitting six of eight shots from the field on his way to 16 points.
But what wasn’t acceptable – or survivable – was allowing Oregon to get 26 points off turnovers.
“We were just giving them the ball and letting them get easy fastbreak buckets,” Holiday said. “Take those fastbreaks and easy buckets away, and we have a better chance.”
Oregon (12-11 overall, 5-6 Pac-10) led most of the way, with the lead peaking at 10 points. However, Washington (15-7, 7-4) nudged ahead for a short time early in the second half, and trailed by two points in the final half-minute. But, the Ducks closed it out by hitting their free throws down the stretch and sent home happy most in the crowd of 11,925 at Matthew Knight Arena.
Joevan Catron led Oregon with 20 points and nine rebounds.