You half expected the Huskies to join the Zags in their locker room after the final horn. That’s what members of the scout team typically do, right?
SPOKANE — No need to mince words here: That was pathetic.
It was a study in futility; a model of ineptitude.
The Washington men’s basketball team hadn’t faced Gonzaga on its home floor in 10 years, and after that performance, may want to wait 100 before it does it again. A 98-71 loss? A 47-22 halftime score? Come on. You half expected the Huskies to join the Zags in their locker room after the final horn. That’s what members of the scout team typically do, right?
Eighth-ranked Gonzaga (9-0) dominated just about every aspect of the game from the moment the ball was tipped. It energized the crowd with a flurry of dunks and three-pointers in the opening five minutes and made it clear UW had no chance to win.
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As for the precise moment this game was over? Well, that warrants a closer look.
Some might say it came at the 11:40 mark in the first half, when Gonzaga big man Zach Collins threw down a jam to cap a 22-2 run and put his team up, 27-6. It was emblematic of an evening in which the Zags could score at will and the Huskies’ will was broken.
It’s no secret that defense has been UW’s chief weakness a month into the season, but allowing the Zags to shoot 53.8 percent from the field (it was above 60 late in the second half) and 50 percent from deep was particularly glaring.
Others might say it was over during warmups. Good Lord, have you watched a Zags game at McCarthey Athletic Center before? The energy could power a small country.
The way the student section moved in unison — the chants, the taunts, the giant cardboard heads. It was the epitome of a hoops-crazy fan base that simply doesn’t exist at Washington.
Just a minute before tipoff, a press-row wag turned to me and said “there’s no way they win here” and I shook my head in agreement instantly.
Even so, I’m going to go back a little further. I’m going to say that Wednesday night’s game between Gonzaga and Washington was over the second it was scheduled.
The chasm between these programs has grown exponentially since they last faced off in Spokane, and it shows no signs of narrowing anytime soon.
Mark Few has turned the Zags into an NCAA tournament staple and regular Final Four threat, while Lorenzo Romar has gone five years without stepping onto the dance floor.
Obviously, there are an array of factors that go into building and maintaining a successful basketball program, but one of them is simply knowing how to coach. And Wednesday, it was undeniable — Few knows how to do it better than Romar.
Start with the offense. The Zags’ ball movement was immaculate vs. the Huskies. Seemed every player got a touch within the first 10 seconds of each possession, and quality shots never lacked.
A wide-open three after four swing passes? Sure. An alley-oop in transition? Why not.
Fans packed the arena and it didn’t seem 30 seconds would go by without their team giving them something to cheer.
The Huskies’ offense, on the other hand, looked borderline paralytic. There was no flow, no rhythm, and seldom an uncontested shot.
For much of the game, it seemed the play call was: Give it to Markelle Fultz, tell him to shoot, and pray it goes in. The end result was UW shooting 30.4 percent from the field.
It wasn’t much better defensively for Washington. It’s one thing for the 7-foot-1, 300-pound Przemek Karnowski to back down smaller defenders and flick a jump hook through the net. It’s another for the Huskies to lose their men in transition or get beat on back door cuts. Whether the miscues were due to a lack of focus or a byproduct of UW’s defensive style is irrelevant. The point is that the Zags looked like they were doing layup drills every fourth time down the court.
After the game, Romar praised Gonzaga’s talent as well as his own team’s refusal to quit. He also made note of the Huskies’ rebounding (they had 54 boards to the Zags 42, and 29 offensive boards to their 11). But when he emphasized all the missed layups UW had, as well as their three-point struggles, it made it seem as though this could have been a tight game under difference circumstances.
No way. Gonzaga outclassed the Huskies (4-4) for 40 minutes and looked like a team that would beat them 10 times out of 10. This game was never going to be close. Sorry. And as far as Washington finding itself? That doesn’t seem to be close either.