No matter how low the UW men's basketball team had fallen during the Pac-12 season, it was never dominated and blown out until Wednesday's defeat.
TUCSON, Ariz. — Lorenzo Romar had seen enough.
After another Washington turnover led to another fast break layup for No. 12 Arizona, he threw his hands up in frustration, called his players to the sideline and launched into a verbal tirade unlike few others during his 11-year coaching tenure with the Huskies.
“This one really sticks just because he was fired up, he was caught up in the game,” senior guard Abdul Gaddy said. “He’s a great coach. He just tried to get us to get fired up and turn it around.”
All season Romar has pumped his fists, stomped and displayed more fire and emotion on the sideline than anyone wearing purple and gold on the court.
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Wednesday night was no different.
And yet no matter how much Romar yelled, pleaded and cajoled from the bench, he couldn’t prevent Arizona from delivering Washington its worst defeat — 70-52 — since the start of the Pac-12 season.
The 18-point setback equaled the most lopsided UW loss this season.
However, Wednesday night’s pounding in front of a sold-out crowd of 14,545 at McKale Center and an ESPN2-televised audience felt worse than the 73-55 loss against Colorado State on Nov. 24.
Despite all of their faults, the Huskies took solace in the fact they had never been blown out in a conference game.
“That streak ended tonight,” Romar said. “We took a step back there.”
Truth be told, the Huskies (14-13, 6-8 Pac-12) have been backpedaling for weeks. They’re 2-8 in their last 10 games after starting 4-0 in the conference.
They needed a mistake-free performance to hang with a quality team like Arizona and everything was going to plan when Washington led 14-10 with 7:42 remaining in the first half.
That’s when Mark Lyons caught fire and scored eight of his 14 points. Tied at 18, Arizona finished the half on a 15-7 run to take a 33-25 lead into halftime.
Early in the second half, everything spiraled out of control for the Huskies.
Their passes were intercepted. Their layups were blocked. They missed open jumpers.
All night the Wildcats attacked the basket as if they were angry at the rim. They darted in the lane and the Huskies were helpless to stop them because Aziz N’Diaye was saddled with foul trouble.
He picked up his second foul late in the first half and before Romar had a chance to get him out of the game, the 7-foot center got tangled with Kevin Parrom on a bizarre play before intermission.
N’Diaye appeared to shove the Arizona senior forward who flew into the front-row seats. Officials assessed N’Diaye with a technical for his third foul and things were never the same for him or Washington.
After Nick Johnson sailed in for a fast-break layup that gave Arizona a 49-29 lead, Romar verbally tore into the Huskies.
“Play with some pride,” he yelled. “We’re down, but don’t sleepwalk the rest of this game. Play with some pride. Play with a chip on your shoulder.
“We talk about that all the time, but it’s 911 right now. I don’t want to come in here and lose by 30-40 points. Let’s cut this down and play hard.”
The message, however, didn’t work.
Washington never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
C.J. Wilcox finished with 15 points and Gaddy added 12.
Solomon Hill scored 19 points, Mark Lyons had 14, Nick Johnson 12 and Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley each had 10 for Arizona.
“We play with pride, and I know all of us are passionate about basketball,” sophomore forward Desmond Simmons said. “We didn’t play with intensity like it mattered in the second half.”
Late in the game, Andrew Andrews stripped Johnson at midcourt and raced ahead on a fast break. Johnson could have conceded the basket, but he tracked Andrews and blocked the shot at the rim.
It was that type of night for the Huskies.
Percentages: FG .308, FT .611. Three-point goals: 1-11, .091 (Wilcox 1-6, Andrews 0-1, Gaddy 0-1, Suggs 0-3). Team rebounds: 7. Blocked shots: 1 (Suggs). Turnovers: 9 (Gaddy 3, Andrews 2, Wilcox 2, Kemp, Jr.). Steals: 4 (Jarreau 2, Suggs, Wilcox). Technical fouls: N’Diaye.
Percentages: FG .471, FT .696. Three-point goals: 6-15, .400 (Lyons 2-4, Hill 2-4, York 1-2, Johnson 1-3, Jerrett 0-1, Parrom 0-1). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 8 (Chol 2, Johnson 2, Jerrett 2, Hill, Parrom). Turnovers: 12 (Hill 4, Johnson 3, Parrom 2, Lyons 2, Jerrett). Steals: 4 (Hill 2, Tarczewski, Chol).
Attendance: 14,545. Officials: Mike Scyphers, Joe DeRosa, Michael Greenstein.