Terrence Ross (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)
ST. LOUIS – Perhaps the Washington Huskies needed a bit of a wake-up call. The early tip, 11 AM Central and 9 AM Pacific time, seemed to affect the visiting Huskies from the get-go. Facing the Saint Louis Billikens, UW came out sleepy and never had a chance to make up ground, losing 77-64 at Chaifetz Arena on Sunday afternoon.
It’s not as though they didn’t prepare for this, however. Romar said during his Thursday teleconference that the Huskies practiced as early as 7:15 in the morning to be ready for game time.
“That’s not an excuse,” Romar said. “I would love to give it as an excuse. That’s not an excuse. You come out, you play. You condition to go out and play basketball.”
After two early three-pointers from sophomore forward Rob Loe gave SLU a 14-6 lead, UW fought back to 16-11 behind a nice floater from Terrence Ross and a deep three from Desmond Simmons. From then on, UW went 16 possessions without a bucket, and found themselves down 35-15.
Despite several height mismatches, the Huskies failed to execute offensively against the Billikens, and early foul trouble from Aziz N’Diaye, Darnell Gant, and Martin Breunig didn’t help their inside presence.
“Saint Louis is a very good basketball team,” Romar said. “They came out; they hadn’t scored like that [before]. In our first road game, we didn’t screen the way we should, we didn’t move the way we should. We were able to get away with that in our last three games, but not against a great defensive team like that.”
SLU shot 60 percent from the field in the first half on their way to a 50-25 lead at the break.
Terrence Ross paced the visitors with 17 points and freshman Tony Wroten chipped in 14. UW cut the SLU lead to as little as 13, but the Huskies simply didn’t have enough minutes to complete the comeback.
Romar did take some positives from the lopsided loss, however. Wroten showed well, especially in the second half.
“He [Tony Wroten] did [get things going],” Romar said. “It was a great experience for Tony. To his credit, he made some adjustments in the second half. He slowed down and picked his spots, and I thought grew up. This was a great game for him as well.”
When it was all said-and-done, though, it came down to the play of the Billikens' veterans. 6-foot-9 senior forward Brian Conklin asserted himself in the paint early on, and finished with a career-high 25 points. Conklin’s ability to score in the post allowed junior guard Kwamain Mitchell to get good looks from the outside. Mitchell was 4-for-5 in the first half from outside the arc, and ended the game with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting.
“In a hostile environment, on the road, against a well-coached team, a team that was very deliberate,” Romar said. “We learned a lot of lessons, and I think this game will help us later on.”
Points: Ross 17, Wroten 14, N'Diaye 11, Gant 7, Gaddy 5, Wilcox 4, Breunig 3, Simmons 3
Rebounds: Ross 10, N'Diaye 6, Gant 5, TEAM 5, Simmons 4, Gaddy 3, Wilcox 3, Wroten 3, Breunig 1
Assists: Ross 3, Gaddy 2, Wilcox 2, Gant 1, Breunig 1, Wroten 1
Steals: Gaddy 3, Wilcox 1, Wroten 1
Blocks: N'Diaye 1
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