Missing Nigel Williams-Goss (sprained ankle) and Shawn Kemp Jr. (concussion), the already depleted Washington Huskies couldn’t keep pace with a bad USC team and fell to the Trojans 70-55 Saturday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. UW (15-13, 4-12) has lost nine of its past 10 and will close out the regular season next week in Seattle with a pair against Colorado and Utah.
Williams-Goss, Washington’s best player, was a late scratch (first career game missed) and the Huskies couldn’t compensate for his absence. They needed Andrew Andrews to step up, but Andrews, who scored 35 points at Washington State a week ago, wasn’t up to it. After going 1-for-7 in the first half, Andrews finished with 19 points but continually missed wide-open looks.
UW coach Lorenzo Romar, clearly disturbed by the outcome, didn’t use the absences of Williams-Goss and Kemp as an excuse for losing by 15 to a conference bottom feeder.
“The mistakes we made had nothing to do with who was or wasn’t playing,” he said. “We had a variety of errors on the defensive end that were unacceptable no matter who was playing. We just didn’t do it defensively. (The Trojans) got a lot of points in the paint and a lot of second-chance baskets. We have to do a better job of concentrating in our coverages.”
USC scored the first 10 points of the game and the final six of the half to build a 27-22 lead at intermission.With lightly used Quevyn Winters scoring 10 points off the bench, Washington rallied for a 22-21 lead with four minutes remaining, but failed to score after that, shooting just 27.6 percent.
USC, which entered with a 2-14 record in Pac-12 play, went on an 8-2 run to start the second half and Washington never recovered despite Andrews scoring in double figures in the final 20 minutes.
Andrews made only 4 of 14 2-point attempts. Winters, a junior, finished with 16, a career high. No other Washington player scored more than six. With no inside presence and relying on perimeter jumpers, UW shot 29.7 percent, a season low.
Nikola Jovanovic, a 6-foot-11 center, topped USC with 16 points and led an onslaught in the paint, where the Trojans outscored the Huskies 44-12. Julian Jacobs nearly recorded a triple double with eight points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“I’m very anxious to look at the film of this game,” said Romar. “The loss had something to do with our lack of size, but more to do with our attention to detail.”
Romar said he learned only Saturday afternoon that Williams-Goss would not be able to play, and that he isn’t certain yet as to whether Williams-Goss and Kemp will be available when the Huskies close out their regular season.
“We were hopeful he (Williams-Goss) was going to get better, but his ankle didn’t respond,” said Romar. “This is the last week of the regular season coming up and we have two very good opponents coming in. I hope that both players will be available. But whether they play or not, we need to have a better effort than we had tonight.”
The Huskies close out the regular season at Alaska Airlines Arena against Colorado (Thursday) and Utah (Saturday). The Pac-12 Tournament gets underway March 11 in Las Vegas.