Post-Season Hopes Dwindling for UW

Lorenzo Romar (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

SEATTLE - Washington suffered their first home conference loss of the season, one they appeared ready for at the start. But the California Golden Bears were able to quickly stifle a 12-point Husky advantage via a 17-0 run and never looked back as they beat UW 72-59 at Alaska Airlines Arena Saturday.

The loss seemingly puts any chances UW had of getting an NCAA Tournament berth in the rearview, outside of winning the Pac-12 Tournament in March.

"It definitely puts our backs against the wall," senior guard C.J. Wilcox said. Wilcox scored eight points on 4-12 shooting, only the third time all year he's been limited to less than double-digits in the box score. Wilcox did have five assists and four blocked shots on the day. "We just have to claw and fight our way out and try to win the rest of our games."

"I don't know if you can do it in three days, but we have to have a mental adjustment fast before we get out on that road," added Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar. "Individually, mentally we have to decide to not worry about anyone else. Each to a man, and maintain that mental focus - especially now that we're going out on the road."

California (17-8, 8-4) was led by the 20 points of Tyrone Wallace, while Richard Solomon added 18 and Justin Cobbs 10 for the Golden Bears. The Huskies (14-12, 6-7) were led by the 21 points of Andrew Andrews, while Nigel Williams-Goss added 12 and Perris Blackwell 10 points and 11 rebounds - his sixth double-double of the season.

Early on the Huskies looked like they'd have a very good chance at avenging an awful 82-56 loss to Cal back in January, surging to a 27-15 lead with 6:49 left in the first half. Andrews had just buried a three-pointer.

"Defensively I thought we were dialed in," Romar said of the early push by UW. "I thought we were contesting shots. I thought we were playing good overall basketball. We still had a couple of turnovers sprinkled in there but offensively we were sticking with offense. Then we had a couple of careless turnovers…the ball didn't go down. We could have really distanced ourselves more in the first half. But we got down on ourselves and we weren't able to recover. The disappointing thing about that is Cal didn't go on some three-point shooting barrage where they were hitting everything they threw up.

"It was there for the taking and we didn't take it."

Three-straight Washington turnovers led to easy buckets, and quickly UW's lead dissolved. A five-point run by Wallace, including a three-pointers, pushed away a four-point Husky lead and gave California their first lead in over 16 minutes.

"When we weren't turning the ball over we were getting the shots we wanted," said Andrews. "If we made or missed it we were able to get back on defense and they weren't breaking us down in transition. We probably gave up eight points just on 'home run' turnovers where they were getting steals in the open court for wide-open dunks. Without those baskets being made I felt like we would have gone into halftime with a lead."

That 19-2 half-ending run by the Golden Bears essentially broke Washington's spirit. Wilcox, who had only taken three shots in the first half, tried to push the issue a little more offensively but came up with only three made baskets in the second half - and 0-6 from three-point range for the game.

Even the silver linings - like Washington out-rebounding the longer Golden Bears - were tinged with gray. "The numbers were a little bit mis-leading, I thought," Romar said when asked about the Huskies matching Cal physically despite a relative lack of size. "We out-rebounded them by two but early on they were getting more second-chances. Their rebounds were key offensive rebounds early. There were a lot of rebounds to be had and we were getting them. Stanford has more size, Cal…but we out-rebounded both teams. But the crucial rebounds we weren't able to pull down today."

The rest of the Huskies tried to pick up the slack in Wilcox's offensive absence, but they were unable to make shots. As a team Washington shot 35 percent in the second half, and 36 percent for the game - including 19 percent from deep.

"You need everyone to step up," Romar said. "It wasn't just C.J. We mentally…we didn't take care of the ball; we didn't guard. We didn't make shots. If C.J. was not taking as many shots, somebody was. We had quite a few open looks. It sounds like a broken record but I say that a lot in most of our losses; open looks. C.J. is having a heck of a year for us. We need to, as a team, step up."

The message was relayed to the team, but they weren't able to deliver. "When it's all said and done, I go back and evaluate what I'm doing as head coach," Romar added. "And as head coach we haven't maybe prepared this team to be mentally tougher."
Statistics:
Points: Andrews 21, Williams-Goss 12, Blackwell 10, Wilcox 8, Simmons 4, Anderson 4
Rebounds: Blackwell 11, Andrews 8, TEAM 7, Simmons 6, Anderson 3, Wiliams-Goss 2, Kemp 2
Assists: Wilcox 5, Simmons 2, Blackwell 1, Williams-Goss 1, Anderson 1
Blocks: Wilcox 4, Simmons 1
Steals: Simmons 2, Blackwell 1, Andrews 1, Kemp 1

Lorenzo Romar post-game video/quotes
C.J Wilcox and Andrew Andrews post-game video/quotes

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