Soaring after eight wins in 10 games, Washington’s basketball season suddenly is in a nose dive. In Corvallis Wednesday night, the Huskies lost their second game in a row to a team that was 0-5 in Pac-12 Conference play, this time Oregon State prevailing 74-66.
The Huskies (12-7, 4-2) came out awful again, falling behind by 20, then roaring back to within one point of the lead before falling back. The Beavers led wire-to-wire for their first conference win, just as as 0-5 Utah did Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
C.J. Wilcox again led Washington with 23 points, but he was nowhere to be found in the early going as the Beavers ran off to a 34-14 lead. Both Oregon State and Utah employed patience on offense, moving the ball rapidly until Washington’s defense broke down.
The distinction in efficiency was apparent in one stat: Washington had 11 assists on 26 field goals; the Beavers (11-8, 1-5), deploying the Princeton style offense of back-door cuts and pick-and-rolls, had 18 assists on 25 field goals. The Beavers reached the free throw line often; they were 18 of 26 while UW was 7 of 14.
Abdul Gaddy had 14 points, breaking a string of single-digit scoring efforts, but the point guard had no assists as the Huskies settled for well-defended outside jumpers. There was little effort to get the ball inside, where Aziz N’Diaye, the conference’s shooting leader, had 10 points and 10 rebounds, but only five attempts.
“We have some find a way to turn it around,” said Gaddy. “In our four wins, we came out with energy. The last two we didn’t. I can’t even tell you why.”
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar also had no answers.
“We were playing with so much energy in the first four games,” he said. “We flipped, and we’re the antithesis of that. Right away tonight, you could see we weren’t dialed in.
“Some kinda way, I’ve got to do a better job in getting us to begin ballgames. We’re not determined enough right now.”
The Huskies rallied late in the first half, closing to 49-39 at the break when Gaddy hit a running jumper from 30 feet at the buzzer. UW carried the momentum into the second half, closing to 56-55 before four consecutive possessions came up dry, including three turnovers.
After Roberto Nelson hit a three from the corner for a 61-55 lead, the Beavers held steady command as Washington had a hard time stringing together consecutive scoring possessions while being unable to defend OSU’s back cuts.
“They do a good job on those plays, but the most disappointing thing is we’ve done a very good job guarding those back cuts,” Romar said. “Tonight we had a lack of concentration.”
So too for the last time the teams met, in the the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament in March, when Oregon State won 86-84, a defeat that likely was the biggest reason the regular-season champion Huskies were not invited to the NCAA tourney.
Devon Collier led OSU with 16 points, Nelson had 15 and Joe Burton 13.
The Huskies go from bad to worse at 4 p.m. Saturday in Eugene, where they’ll find the league-leading Oregon Ducks, winners of 19 in a row, including a 68-61 win over Washington State Wednesday in which the Ducks trailed by 10 at the half.