The Huskies suffered fifth consecutive road loss, and likely lost any chance of earning an at-large NCAA tournament berth. Meanwhile, they tumbled from seventh to ninth place in the Pac-12.
EUGENE, Ore. – During their late-season slide, the Huskies took solace that their fate could have been reversed if a handful of plays had turned their way.
Washington State @ Washington, 8 p.m., ESPNU
Aside from a blowout defeat in January, the Washington men’s basketball team had a chance to win every Pac-12 game.
Contrary to postgame comments, the Huskies never seriously threatened No. 13 Oregon during Sunday’s 86-73 defeat – their second most lopsided loss in the conference.
“Oregon blows a lot of teams out here at home and the fact that we kept with them and kept close shows that we’re a pretty good team,” senior guard Andrew Andrews said. “Once we find out what it is that we need to do to bring it all together for a full 40 minutes, then we’ll be all right.”
Needing a victory in their regular-season road finale to preserve any chance of securing an NCAA tournament at-large berth, Washington was dominated in nearly every aspect on a night when Oregon extended its home winning streak to 25 games and finished the season18-0 at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks had more rebounds (40 to 26), free throws (35 to 20), points in the paint (44 to 26), points off turnovers (17 to 8), second-chance points (14 to 7) and bench points (16 to 9).
Aside from an 8-6 lead three minutes into the game, the Huskies fought from behind throughout.
Oregon shot 53.7 percent from the field – its best outing in the past 12 games — and led for 37 minutes and 40 seconds.
The Huskies kept things close in the first half and were down 40-32 at halftime. They were nearly knocked out early in the second half when Oregon went on a 7-0 run to push its lead to 15 points (47-32).
Washington trimmed its deficit to six (71-65) with 5:05 remaining.
But the Ducks removed any suspense from the game with a 9-2 run that pushed their lead to 13 points (80-67) at the 2:58 mark.
The Huskies never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“I thought our guys fought,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We went out and gave a great effort. Couldn’t get over the hump.”
More to the point, the Huskies couldn’t solve Oregon’s complicated rotating defense that included a full-court press, man-to-defense and a tricky 2-3 zone that held UW to 39.3 percent shooting.
Washington also couldn’t stop Oregon senior forward Elgin Cook, who scored a game-high 26 points on Senior Night.
Oregon (23-6, 12-4) moved a half-game ahead of Utah atop the Pac-12 standings.
Meanwhile, Washington tumbled from seventh to ninth place following its fifth straight road defeat that theoretically eliminates its chances of receiving an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
If the Huskies (16-13, 8-9) are going to snap their five-year NCAA tourney drought, then they’ll have to capture the Pac-12 tournament title in Las Vegas.
Washington would be the No. 9 seed in the conference tournament if it began today.
It’s not the finish the Huskies envisioned when they started 5-1 in the Pac-12. They’re just 3-8 in the past 11 games and 1-6 in the last seven contests.
“As long as we fight, don’t care if we win or lose,” freshman guard Dejounte Murray said. “As long as we work hard, I’m proud of this group of guys. We just got to keep going. It’s not over.
“This definitely was a big game, but we fell short to a really good team.”
Andrews and Murray did everything they could to keep the Huskies in this one.
Andrews, UW’s lone senior, finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Meanwhile, Murray had 20 points and freshman guard Matisse Thybulle 13.
The Husky trio couldn’t keep pace with Oregon, which had five players score in double figures, including Pac-12 MVP candidate Dillon Brooks (19 points), Casey Benson (12), Jordan Bell (12) and Chris Boucher (10).
“The most disappointing thing for me is what I’ve continued to say is that we have made improvements and don’t have the wins to show for it,” Romar said. “That’s the most disappointing thing because we’ve gotten better.
“But if you just look at the scores and you just look at it from a distance, you can’t tell some of the things (we’re doing) much better than we were doing even when we were 5-1. Other teams have gotten better, too.”