Taking advantage of eight Washington turnovers in the second half, the Utah Utes pulled away for a 78-69 victory over the the Huskies Thursday night at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. UW, which led for most of the first half and played evenly with Utah for the first 10 minutes of the second, collapsed down the stretch and fell to 13-10 overall and 5-5 in Pac-12 play.
Washington will close out its three-game, Pac-12 road slate Sunday at Colorado, then return to Alaska Airlines Arena next week to host Stanford and California.
Washington could not overcome Utah’s hot shooting. The Utes, ranked fifth nationally in field goal percentage, hit 60 percent of their shots to Washington’s 43.8, and converted 22 free throws to the Huskies’ six. The Huskies have lost two in a row.
Utah native C.J. Wilcox scored 20 points, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, to move into fifth place all-time on the Huskies’ career scoring list. Freshman Nigel Williams-Goss added 19 and Desmond Simmons, making a rare start, 14. Washington had precious little else. Andrew Andrews went 1-for-12 and scored his only basket (a layup) with 3:25 left.
“We didn’t get stops in the second half and we gave up too many fast-break points,” said Simmons. “We got killed in transition. We just have to put this one behind us.”
“I thought that our inability to get stops in the second half was the difference,” said head coach Lorenzo Romar. “They got too many layups, and that should have not have been the case. While we were shooting jumpers, they were getting layups.”
Andrews, who scored 19 points against Utah Jan. 8 in Seattle, including 12 in the final nine minutes, had no luck at all.
“It’s tough when the ball doesn’t go down, but we can’t allow that to affect us on the defensive end,” said Romar. “We played fine in the first half, but I think we played an enabler role in the second half and they capitalized. We told our team that we can still get a split this weekend. If we do that, all is not lost. Then we would have five of seven home games to end the season.”
Fueled by a 9-0 run, the Huskies led by as many as seven points in the first half as Utah was sloppy with the ball (10 turnovers). But the Utes stormed back in the final three minutes of the half with a 9-0 run of their own to lead 31-30 at intermission.
Simmons tallied eight of Washington’s 30 points in the first 20 minutes, but UW received an 0-for- 7 effort from Andrews and committed 11 fouls in the half as Utah outscored the Huskies at the line 10-1. Utah also shot 50 percent from the floor to Washington’s 36.4.
Washington held a 47-45 lead at 12:30 of the second half and forged a 51-51 tie at 10:56. But as the turnovers began to mount, the Huskies fell behind. After Delon Wright notched an old-fashioned three at 7:59 to give Utah a 56-51 lead, the game was effectively over.
The Huskies had virtually nothing out of their front court. Perris Blackwell scored six points and Shawn Kemp four. Brandon Taylor led the Utes with 20 points and Wright added 19.