I’m not in the Bahamas this week, so I watched Washington’s 80-64 loss to Gonzaga from my couch. Here is a capsulated recap of the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME -- Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer, a preseason All-America selection, led all scorers with 24 points on 7-of-13 shooting (and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line) in 28 minutes. He also tied for the team lead with 11 rebounds. His soft touch and deceptive post moves made him a tough cover for UW’s shorter, younger, foul-plagued front line.
WHY GONZAGA WON -- The combination of Wiltjer, 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski and 6-foot-10 sophomore Domantas Sabonis simply proved too much for the Huskies to handle. In addition to Wiltjer’s 24 points, Sabonis scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Karnowski scored 12 points and had six rebounds in 21 minutes. That’s 53 points and 26 rebounds from the giant Gonzaga trio. The bad news for the Huskies is that they appear ill-equipped to defend against an opposing frontcourt with three talented, experienced players 6-foot-10 or taller. The good news is that there might not be another team in the country -- and certainly not on UW’s remaining schedule -- with that kind of personnel.
That wasn’t the only reason the Huskies lost, though. They struggled to sustain any kind of offensive rhythm and made only 25.7 percent of their field-goal attempts against Gonzaga’s defense. And they committed 32 fouls, which led to 44 Gonzaga free-throw attempts, 30 of which GU made.
STAT OF THE GAME -- Washington had 45 rebounds -- two fewer than Gonzaga -- but 22 of them came on the offensive glass.
WHAT IT MEANS -- This figured to be the kind of game that might expose the Huskies’ youth, and it was. It also exposed their lack of size, but as mentioned above, the Huskies won’t see another team like this for the rest of the season. UW could have been a lot smarter about the way it played defense -- as Jay Bilas frequently noted on the TV broadcast, the Huskies simply put their hands on the ballhandler too many times, and that’s going to be called a foul more often than not -- and its foul trouble, especially in the frontcourt, made this game a lot more difficult than it would have been otherwise. The shooting woes are a concern, too, though in a funky venue in a different time zone in front of only 1,374 people, I’m not sure that’s a major worry at this point. In spite of the 16-point loss, I do think the Huskies will take some positives from this one. Gonzaga led by 24 points in the first half and looked as if it might win by 40, but the Huskies maintained their effort, kept attacking the offensive glass and trimmed the deficit as low as 11 before the game ended. Is UW good enough right now to beat a top-10 team? Likely not, and definitely not if they play like they did on Wednesday. But they’re still young, it’s still early, and I think a beating like this can help them in the long run.
UP NEXT -- The Huskies play the loser of tonight’s game between Texas and Texas A&M on Thursday at 4 p.m. PT. The game will air on AXS TV. What channel is AXS TV, you ask? Well, if you’re in the Seattle area, here you go (and if you’re not, check out their zip code channel finder).
· Charter Ch. 770
· Click! Network Ch. 609
· Comcast Ch. 707
· DirecTV Ch. 340
· DISH Ch. 167
· Frontier FiOS Ch. 569
· Rainier Cable Ch. 526
· Wave Broadband Ch. 778
And here is the final box score: