It didn’t end gracefully, but it ended nonetheless. The Washington Huskies halted a head-scratching four-game losing skid with a 56-43 win over Oregon State Thursday in front of 6,663 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
In his first start of the season, Robert Upshaw dominated the paint in a season-high 37 minutes. His 12 points paced the Huskies and the 6-foot-10 power forward grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked six shots. Andrew Andrews added 12 points off the bench for Washington while Mike Anderson had 11.
After beginning the season 11-0 behind a stout defense, the Huskies dropped their next four games, a surprising losing streak borne more of complacency than poor play. Thursday, the Huskies got back their defense, holding a Beavers squad, coming off their first win over a top-10 opponent in 15 years, to 31.9 percent from the field.
“We got one,” said a relieved Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar. “I thought our guys did a good job of executing on the defensive end. There were not a whole lot of missed assignments. We were going back and forth from a zone to a man (defense), and our guys didn’t really miss a beat.”
It wasn’t pretty in the first half as each team battled through fits and spurts. Oregon State (11-5, 2-2) opened up a 10-4 lead in as Malcolm Duvivier scored eight. After a timeout, the Huskies responded with an 11-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 15-10 lead, only to see the Beavers score five points to tie it.
The game stayed knotted at 15-15 for the next 6:20 as neither team could find an answer offensively. After the Huskies took a 19-15 lead into the break, six lead changes opened the second half. With 13:28 to play, Andrews hit a big 3-pointer for a 31-29 lead. Unlike recent losses to Stanford and Washington State, the Huskies held on to secure their first Pac-12 win.
Washington (12-4, 1-3) did so without junior forward Jernard Jarreau, a fixture in starting lineup.Jarreau will undergo arthroscopic surgery to clean up his surgically repaired right knee and miss four to six weeks. Minus Jarreau, the Huskies played seven players over the first 39 minutes
Besides Upshaw over Jarreau, junior guard Quevyn Winters earned the start over Andrews.
“I just took it as a point, ‘Man, we need to get our bench scoring up then,'” Andrews said. “I played that role my freshman year, so it’s nothing I haven’t done before. I just tried to come in and be a spark off the bench.”
Washington shot 33 percent from the field in the first half, but shot 52.6 percent in the second against the Beavers’ zone.
“I thought in the second half we did a good job of settling down and getting good shots against their tough zone,” Romar said, pointing to 18 made baskets on 16 assists.
With his six blocks, Upshaw bested Washington’s single-season block mark, surpassing the 67 of David Dixon and Christian Welp. Upshaw said he was focused on stepping up in Jarreau’s absence.
“It was a call for me to step up after Jernard was going down for awhile,” Upshaw said. “For me, to be really focused and do what the coaches asked me to do was really big, and I went out there and did it.”
Jarmal Reid and Duvivier paced Oregon State with 10 points. Washington finishes its three-game homestand Sunday against Oregon.