The Washington men’s basketball team threw away any momentum it might have had going into next week’s Pac-12 tournament.
The Huskies’ sloppy ball handling and an inability to slow down hot-shooting UCLA guard Jordan Adams led to a disappointing 91-82 defeat Thursday in front of 6,894 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“We had gone through a stretch early in the year where we had turned the ball over too much, but by and large this year we had taken pretty good care of the basketball,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “It did kind of come out of nowhere.”
The Huskies committed just four turnovers in the first half, but they had nine in the second half that resulted in 18 points. UCLA scored 23 from 13 UW turnovers.
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“We tried to force some things,” Romar said. “Some things that weren’t there at times. We tried to shove it down their throats instead of being patient sometimes. Turnovers were definitely a catalyst to them getting going in the second half.”
The Huskies knew duplicating their performances in their two previous outings — both 20-point-plus blowout wins — wasn’t going to be easy against UCLA, which has aspirations of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament later this month.
Their task became tougher when Adams poured in a personal-best 31 points.
“He’s really strong and he’s always moving without the ball,” said UW senior C.J. Wilcox, who defended Adams. “He got a lot in transition as well off of our turnovers.”
Adams converted 11 of 15 field goals and drained 8 of 9 free throws in 31 minutes. With 7:16 remaining, he went to the bench and received a massage from a UCLA trainer. Leg cramps were the only thing that slowed him down, but the outcome was just about decided when he went to the bench.
Tied at 64, UCLA went on an 11-2 run to take a 75-66 lead with 7:37 left. Adams scored four points during the stretch and backup guard Bryce Alford capped the spurt with a three-pointer off an assist by Adams.
“He’s a heckuva player,” Romar said of Adams. “He’s one of the toughest guys to guard in America.”
Wilcox’s layup cut the Huskies’ deficit to four (81-77) with 3:03 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Kyle Anderson made one of two free throws to put UCLA ahead 82-77.
Andrew Andrews had a chance to draw UW to within two points, but he missed an open three-pointer. Zach LaVine put the game away with a pair layups and a free throw that put Bruins on top 87-77 with 1:23 left.
Wilcox finished with a team-high 20 points before fouling out with 3:52 to play. Washington freshman Nigel Williams-Goss had 17 points and eight assists while Andrews had 17 points and Perris Blackwell 13.
UCLA (23-7, 12-5 Pac-12) had five players in double-figure scoring, including LaVine, the former Bothell High star, who had 14.
The loss is a serious setback for the Huskies, who had a chance to forge a five-team, fifth-place tie in the conference standings with a win. Now, Washington (16-14, 8-9) remains in ninth place.
With a win in Saturday’s regular-season finale against USC, the Huskies can climb into a sixth-place tie in the conference standings. They’re guaranteed no worse than the ninth-place seed in the Pac-12 tournament.
“There’s still some things out there for us,” Romar said. “We can’t dwell on this too long.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com