The Huskies, who recovered from a 22-point deficit during their win over USC earlier this month, fell into a 13-point hole in the second half on Saturday. Despite a late push in the final minutes, Washington was unable to recover and fell 98-88 to the Trojans.
The Washington men’s basketball team entered the game with a head of steam following a rare victory at Pauley Pavilion.
However, the momentum dissipated in the first half and the Huskies were never able to overcome a double-digit deficit before falling 98-88 in front of 6,387 at Galen Center.
“I wouldn’t say we were satisfied at all,” Chriss said. “Everybody on our team wants to win regardless of whether or not we lost or won the last game.
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“I wouldn’t say … we took a little off. I just think some little slippages that we can tighten up got to us, and they took advantage of them.”
The Huskies (14-7, 6-3 Pac-12) missed a chance to sweep both L.A. teams in the regular season for just the third in school history. They did it in 2005-06 and in 1986-87.
Unlike their first encounter with the Trojans, when the Huskies recovered from a 22-point deficit for a win, this time the comeback came up short.
“A lot different game than the last time we played USC,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We knew they were definitely a high-powered basketball team and a good basketball team. They beat us to the loose balls in the first half. I think they won the hustle-play situations.
“In the second half, I thought we scrapped a lot more. We were able to cut the lead down. I don’t know if we made very good decisions defensively down the stretch. If you make bad decisions on USC you’re going to pay for it.”
In front of a sizable contingent of purple-clad fans that included former UW standouts Spencer Hawes and C.J. Wilcox, Washington fell behind early and trailed for more than 35 minutes.
The Huskies were down 44-33 at halftime due in large part because they were 2 of 14 on three-pointers and outrebounded 24-17.
Washington also had difficulty once again containing USC’s Nikola Jovanovic.
The 6-foot-11 center finished with a season-high 28 points – two shy of his personal best – on 10-for-13 shooting. He was 8 for 9 on free throws. In their first meeting, Jovanovic had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“Most teams we play are big and they all have size,” Romar said. “We made some bad decisions and give them a lot of credit, they did a good job of going inside.”
The Huskies countered with Chriss and Dejounte Murray, who each had 18 points. Andrew Andrews finished with 15 – six shy of his Pac-12 leading scoring average.
“We were a little sloppy starting off,” Murray said. “They made shots. They got to the rim. They got to the free-throw line and they made their free throws.
“Our biggest deal is we got to put two halves together and play consistent both halves.”
The Huskies made several runs in the second half.
Murray sank a layup to cut UW’s deficit to 57-54 with 13:36 remaining. After USC rebuilt its lead to 13 points, Murray canned a pair of free throws to pull UW to 78-73 with 6:03 left.
Washington was six points down at 83-77 at the 4:09 mark, but never got any closer.
“It just felt like there was that one hump that we couldn’t get over,” Chriss said. “Every time we got close, it seemed like they would make some free throws or they would make shot.”
The Trojans (17-5, 6-3) had five players in double-digit scoring, including Jordan McLaughlin (21), Bennie Boatwright (15), Katin Reinhardt (11) and Elijah Stewart (10).
Despite the loss, Romar said UW had a “positive road trip.”
“You do well at home and get splits on the road, you got a chance to win the league,” he said. “This is the second time we’ve gotten a split on a road trip.
“We have not gotten swept yet, so it definitely was a positive trip. Just wish it would have been a little more positive.”
Washington returns home for Wednesday’s 8 p.m. game against Arizona State at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Huskies, picked 11th in a Pac-12 preseason media poll, begin the second half of the conference race tied for second in the standings.
“The sky is the limit for this team,” Murray said. “We just got to keep doing our thing. Stay together, take one game at a time and play Husky basketball.”
|Saturday’s resultsUSC 98, UW 88Utah 96, Stanford 74UCLA 83, Washington St. 50Oregon St. at Arizona, late|