With 7:42 remaining and Washington leading Arizona State 60-55 Sunday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena, Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies seemed in good position to snap the longest losing streak of his coaching tenure at the school. But victimized by a 23-8 Sun Devil run, the Huskies (14-11, 3-10) collapsed in the stretch and lost 78-68.
UW’s seven-game losing streak is the longest by a Romar-coached team. It’s also the longest by any Washington squad since 2001-02 when a Bob Bender team dropped nine in a row.
Washington, which started the season 11-0 and rose as high as No. 13 in The Associated Press poll after defeating two nationally ranked teams, hasn’t won since Romar threw 7-foot center Robert Upshaw off the club Jan. 26 for violating a team rule.
Romar was so frustrated by Sunday’s loss that he blew off his post-game radio program.
Washington’s demise came about because the Huskies couldn’t get defensive stops of consequence in the final eight minutes. On several ASU possessions during that stretch, the Huskies barely tried, snoozing instead.
They particularly couldn’t handle guard Gerry Blakes, who had 14 of his 23 points in the second half, including nine consecutive in a three-minute stretch inside of seven minutes. Three times the Huskies left Blakes wide open for shots, and he hit each.
Washington also had no answer for Savon Goodman, who finished with 19 points and provided the Sun Devils with a half-dozen second-chance possessions by collecting seven offensive rebounds.
With Upshaw gone, the guard-oriented Huskies do not have the personnel to prevent teams from exploiting opportunities in the paint. That’s where Arizona State flourished late Sunday, especially in the final seven minutes.
After Nigel Williams-Goss scored an old-fashioned three for a 60-55 lead, Blake lifted the Sun Devils to a 67-64 advantage. Washington pulled to within 68-66 on two Williams-Goss free throws with 3:47 left, but had nothing after that as Arizona State finished by making eight of 10 shots in the final five minutes.
Williams-Goss led Washington with 20 points and added six assists and five rebounds. Andrew Andrews contributed 19 points and three rebounds. But the Huskies shot only 37.5 percent and missed 18 of their 25 3-point attempts.
Prior to losing Sunday, Washington won its last eight meetings with Arizona State and five consecutive in Seattle dating to Feb. 23, 2008.
The Huskies play their next three on the road, starting with a Feb. 22 game at Washington State. Washington will play at UCLA (Feb. 25) and USC (Feb. 28), before returning to Alaska Airlines Arena to close out its regular-season schedule against Colorado (March 5) and Utah (March 7). The Pac-12 Tournament begins March 11 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.