Another slow start resulted in a big double-digit deficit for the Washington men’s basketball team and ultimately proved to be the difference in Thursday night’s 91-75 defeat against Stanford.
The Huskies, who trailed by 20 points in the first half, made a run at the end and closed to within 11 with less than 12 minutes remaining.
Stanford answered with a 14-2 run and Washington (1-8, 0-4 Pac-12) never seriously threatened again the rest of the way at Kaiser Permanente Arena. (The Cardinal is playing its home games nearby in Santa Cruz, California, because of COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County.)
“They hit us in the face,” UW coach Mike Hopkins said. “They scored 10 points in the first 3½ minutes, and we looked like we were just stunned. … Then it was 17-5 late in the first. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to have better starts and that goes back to both ends.
“It’s not just offense. We broke down defensively with some breakdowns in the scouting report in how we were going to execute and defend them. It’s got to better at both ends. They hit us in the face first, and we didn’t respond the way we need to.”
It’s the fifth straight loss for UW, which is off to its worst start since beginning 0-9 during the 1953-54 season. It was also the sixth time the Huskies have lost by at least 14 points and their third consecutive defeat to Stanford.
Hopkins tweaked the lineup for the third straight game and started sophomore point guard Marcus Tsohonis in place of Quade Green, who had been limited in practice this week due to illness.
When asked about Green starting on the bench, Hopkins said: “That’s within the program” before lauding Tsohonis’ strides in recent practices.
“He had some great practices and he earned it and that’s why he played,” Hopkins said. “I thought he did a really good job as soon as he got into the flow of the game.
“He got in the lane, made some open threes, got us into our offense. I was really proud of the way he’s handled his situation. He got an opportunity, and he thrived at it.”
Tsohonis, who didn’t play in the previous game and had been outside of the rotation early in the season, made the most of his opportunity and finished with a career-high 24 points and five rebounds.
“I’m just ready whenever,” said Tsohonis, who connected on 8 of 21 field goals. “If my name is called or my number is called, I’m ready to go out there and hoop.”
Still with its leading scorer on the bench, Washington missed its first five shots, including four three-pointers. The Huskies trailed 12-0 before Nate Roberts put them on the board with a layup at the 14:31 mark.
Washington was down 27-7 with 5:33 remaining in the first half and went in the break down 38-21. The Huskies connected on 8 of 28 field goals, including 4 of 15 three-pointers while tying a season low for points in the first half.
“For some reason, we’re having trouble making shots early,” Hopkins said. “I felt like Stanford was going to take away the paint. They’ve seen our shooting percentages, and they made it very difficult to get in there. I thought we moved the ball and we got four wide-open threes, but we didn’t knock them down.
“We’re getting behind and that’s not good. In the second half, I felt like we fought. We played with a courage and confidence and fight in us that was something that I haven’t seen. I was really proud of the guys. They just kept at it.”
The Huskies appeared re-energized at the start of the second and controlled the game for about 10 minutes while cutting into their deficit. Reserves J’Raan Brooks and Cole Bajema provided a boost while UW trailed 57-46 after Green’s layup with 11:51 left.
“In the second half, we came out and we were hungry,” said Tsohonis, who scored 19 points in the second half. “We just wanted to come back. When we put ourselves in a hole, it was just a little bit too late.”
Stanford regained control thanks to dominant performances from Oscar da Silva (17 points and 10 rebounds) and Zaire Williams (12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists).
Jaiden Delaire tallied a team-high 21 points, Spencer Jones had 18 and Michael O’Connell 11 for Stanford, which improved to 7-3 and 3-1.
Jamal Bey, who canned 3 of 7 three-pointers, had a personal-best 15 points while Green also had 15 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Before the game, Hopkins stressed the importance of rebounding and three-point shooting. Washington was out-rebounded 47-31 and converted just 8 of 30 shots behind the arc.
And yet, the Huskies still outscored Stanford 54-53 in the second half, which was more points than UW had in three games, including its previous outing.
“Once we turned it on in the second half, we were in the game and we were coming back” Tsohonis said. “It’s just the little things. If we start the game playing like that and playing like we want to win from the start, then I think we’ll be fine and we’ll end up starting to win some games.”
The Huskies finish their Bay Area trip at noon Saturday at California.