NEW YORK — If the 2K Sports Classic is an early measuring stick, then the Washington men’s basketball team learned it has a lot of work to do if it’s going to salvage a season that’s quickly spiraling out of control.
A five-day, two-game autumn trip to New York, with the city lit up in preparation for the holidays, was anything but festive for the Huskies.
Less than 24 hours after being pulverized in the paint by Indiana, Washington was punished by Boston College on the perimeter with a prolific three-point assault.
The Huskies’ 89-78 defeat in front of a sparse Friday afternoon crowd at Madison Square Garden had a few of the handful of UW fans in the stands bemoaning yet another lackluster performance.
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“At least we didn’t lose by 18,” said a purple-clad UW spectator.
Washington entered the consolation game still reeling from a 102-84 loss to the Hoosiers in the semifinals.
For the second straight game the Huskies started slowly, fell behind by double digits midway through the first half and never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Once again they surrendered at least 20 points to two opposing players and allowed an opposing team to shoot over 50 percent from the floor.
“We tried to apply some pressure to get them to turn the ball over, but we couldn’t really dictate tempo with them because they were so good moving the basketball,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They shot the ball in the first half really well.”
Washington (2-3) never led in the New York games, trailed by as many as 18 points in both games and stumbled in a second straight double-digit defeat.
This time the Huskies trailed 27-16 with 10:11 left in the first half. They were down 37-21 and went into halftime behind 46-34 after Olivier Hanlan raced the length of the court in 4.1 seconds for a layup as time expired.
“It’s tough to bounce back after the opposing team throws the first punch like that,” senior guard C.J. Wilcox said. “We made some runs, came back and cut the lead to single digits, but they kept pulling away.”
Whenever the Huskies made a run in the second half, Joe Rahon (22 points), Hanlan (20) or forward Ryan Anderson (18) answered with a momentum-breaking basket.
Washington never got closer than eight points (61-53) after the break.
The Huskies were so intent on rebounding – they were outrebounded 50-29 by Indiana — they lost track of BC shooters on the outside.
Rahon converted 4 of 5 three-pointers in the first half and backup guard Lonny Jackson was 3 for 5 for 10 points.
The Eagles were 11 for 25 on three-pointers. Making matters worse, Washington still lost the rebounding battle 33-29.
Wilcox, who scored a career-high 30 points, was the lone bright spot for the Huskies. He bounced back from a 2-for-10 three-point shooting display Thursday and converted 6 of 7. He made 11 of 17 from the floor and added four assists and two steals in 38 minutes.
“Really, at the end of the day, it’s about team,” Wilcox said. “I know none of us wanted to come out here and drop two, but I think we came away with some good things.
“We saw what we need to work on and we did a good job of sticking together through adversity.”
The Huskies are no stranger to adversity this season.
Before Friday’s game, Romar tweaked the starting lineup. He replaced 6-9 forward Shawn Kemp Jr., who had three straight ineffective performances, with 6-6 guard Mike Anderson.
It was the first start for the junior-college newcomer and Washington played most of the game with a four-guard lineup.
Anderson and Andrew Andrews finished with 10 points. Darin Johnson added 11 off the bench.
The Huskies’ 2-3 start is their first since 2008 when they advanced to the NCAA tournament and finished with a 26-9 record.
When asked for reasons for optimism, Romar noted the offense that’s averaging 84.8 points.
“We just have to get better defensively,” he said. “Much better.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com. On Twitter @percyallen.