Washington squandered a 12-point second-half lead Saturday night and lost 67-57 at UCLA.
The Huskies (12-14, 2-11) have lost eight consecutive games, which is the third longest losing streak in school history.
Here are three impressions.
UW IS STILL LOOKING FOR LEADERS?
Following a 62-56 defeat at USC on Thursday, Jaden McDaniels faced the media and was asked what the Huskies needed to do to break their losing skid.
The 6-foot-9 freshman forward paused for several long seconds before admitting he didn’t have any immediate answers.
By virtue of his production, McDaniels is one of UW’s scoring and defensive leaders. But it’s asking a lot of a 19-year-old to be the vocal leader and navigate a young team through tough times.
The same can be said about freshman forward Isaiah Stewart.
Five weeks ago at the start of UW’s losing streak, coach Mike Hopkins challenged the team’s three upperclassmen to take command of the squad on and off the court.
However, senior Sam Timmins is limited in his role as a backup forward who averages 7.0 minutes and 1.7 points.
Junior guard Nahziah Carter had been relatively consistent before the past two games in Los Angeles when he tallied just 14 points while connecting on 5 of 19 shots, including 1 for 8 on three-pointers.
And junior forward Hameir Wright has been wildly inconsistent. He had his best four-game stretch of his career, which preceded his worst three-game stretch of the season.
Wright, who Hopkins has called “the glue” of the team, went scoreless last week at Washington State before scoring six points at USC on Thursday. And Saturday, he played just one minute and was benched for ineffectiveness.
“His energy at the beginning wasn’t great,” Hopkins said. “We want to play people with energy and I didn’t see that at the beginning. That was my call.”
When asked who provides the leadership in times of adversity, Hopkins pointed to the coaching staff and wished the upperclassmen would assume command.
“In a perfect world, yes,” he said. “One only played one minute tonight. One played a little bit, but hasn’t been playing consistent. Naz had some good moments. Yeah, no question.”
UW CAN WIN WITH THIS DEFENSE
Hopkins has got to feel like a man in a wooden boat that’s sinking in the middle of the lake because of holes in the hull.
As soon as he patches one leak, water pours in from another hole.
Before the Los Angeles trip, Hopkins said the No. 1 priority was fixing a defense that surrendered an average of 79.3 points and 43% shooting during a four-game stretch.
Well, Washington stiffened defensively and allowed an average of 64.5 points over the weekend. The Huskies held USC to 35.8% shooting and locked down the Bruins in the first half (39.3% shooting).
In normal times, that would have been good enough to win.
However, the Huskies were undone by an anemic offense that averaged just 56.5 points in the two games.
That’s just not enough scoring.
Washington, which ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring at 69.9 points a game, has struggled offensively this season.
Hopkins has pinned most of UW’s offensive troubles on inconsistent three-point shooting, an inability to get the ball inside to Stewart and not enough scoring in transition.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
If Washington is going to win another game, then it’s going to happen in the next two weeks – although nothing is guaranteed with a team that’s lost 12 of the past 14 games.
According to KenPom.com, the Huskies are favored in their next three games against Stanford, California and Washington State, all at home.
Considering UW is 0-7 in Pac-12 road games, it won’t be favored when it finishes the season at Arizona State and Arizona.
The Huskies haven’t won a game in more than a month and desperately need something to feel good about before the season ends.