The Huskies remain undefeated, but not without drama Monday night at Hec Ed against an underdog, thanks to a season-high 18 turnovers. But Washington (11-0) overcome a sloppy first half to defeat Tulane 66-57. UW equaled its best start under coach Lorenzo Romar, previously done in the 2005-06 season, in its penultimate nonconference game.
After falling behind by seven midway through the first half, consecutive baskets by forward Jernard Jerreau as the half period end allowed Washington to reclaim the lead and the momentum.
Shawn Kemp Jr. scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting and Nigel Williams-Goss added 14 points and nine assists. Center Robert Upshaw provided 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in 27 minutes off the bench.
Besides the turnovers, the Huskies were outrebounded by the Green Wave 36-33. Without discrediting the opponent, Romar said the Huskies “weren’t ourselves.
“We couldn’t really practice the way we’d like to practice (lately) and it really showed. We were playing on offensive fumes and a little bit like that against Oklahoma — lots of slippage.
“In spite of it all I’m still proud of our team to accomplish what we’ve accomplished at this point.”
It was Tulane (9-2) controlling play early as the Huskies committed nine turnovers and shot 42 percent. After UW took a 9-2 lead on a Williams-Goss floater at 16:18, the Green Wave took a timeout. It proved beneficial as Tulane went on a 16-2 run over the next 4:48. A trio of three-point baskets by senior guard Jay Hook was instrumental.
Using their superior size in the front court, the Huskies began to chip away. Kemp had three dunks as a part of his eight first-half points. Two Williams-Goss free throws cut Tulane’s lead to 26-24 with 1:07 remaining. Jerreau’s baskets gave Washington the lead from there.
“Jernard Jerreau’s complete arsenal was on display in that first half,” Romar said. “That’s why he is so valuable. That is why we missed him so much last year . . . He’s a facilitator at 6-foot-10. He just makes plays.”
While Washington led most of the second half, its American Athletic Conference foe made one last run. A Louis Dabney three-point field goal completed the 19-8 burst and lifted Tulane to a 46-43 lead at 8:53. However, the Huskies responded with eight unnanswered, capped by an Andrews three-pointer that put UW ahead 51-46.
“We just had to be mentally sharp,” Williams-Goss said. “I think some of our intensity (swayed) up and down throughout the game. We had stretches that we weren’t ourselves on defense. It was sloppy.”
Tulane entered the game with one loss, a 22-point home defeat Nov. 17 to Wake Forest. Since then, the Green Wave feasted on a nonconference schedule rated among the worst in NCAA Division I and held just a 175 RPI.
Dylan Osetkowski provided 12 points and nine rebounds to lead the Green Wave. Hook had 11 points, nine in the first half, and Jonathan Stark added 10. Tulane was held to 31 percent shooting by Washington, which entered the game ranked fourth nationally in limiting opponents to 34 percent from the field.
The Huskies wrap up their nonconference slate Sunday against Stony Brook with an opportunity to post their best start to a season in the Romar era. Conference play begins in the new year with a trip to Berkeley to face Cal Jan. 2.