Washington had an 11 day break to try to find their mojo but things didn’t appear to be much different as the Husky offense again was nowhere to be found in an 80-53 loss to Arizona on New Year’s Eve. The Dawgs fall to 1-7 (0-3) on the season.
Coach Hopkins went back to the initial starting 5 from earlier in the year and it didn’t pay dividends. Erik Stevenson tried to assert himself early but missed the Huskies’ first 4 shots including having a pair blocked on the same possession. Luckily for Washington Quade Green rediscovered his shot after some recent struggles. He hit a pair of tough shots including a 3-pointer that pulled the Huskies to within 7-5 after 2.5 minutes.
The Dawgs predictably though had no answer for Arizona’s bigs and in particular Jordan Brown. He scored the Wildcats’ first 4 points and their offense never looked very seriously challenged by the Husky defense. Meanwhile, Hameir Wright took over from Stevenson as the player who couldn’t make a shot. He somehow missed 4 wide open 3-pointers in less than 3 minutes of game clock as Arizona stretched out their lead and were up 25-13 at the under 8 timeout.
Things might have been worse for Washington if Arizona hadn’t missed their first 6 shots from the free throw line. That eventually stabilized though and they made their next 4 attempts to close out the half. Washington however managed only a pair of free throw attempts by Quade Green during that time who had his streak of 16 straight makes broken after he missed the second. That was in part because the Husky bigs were a complete nonentity on the offensive end. Riley Sorn attempted 2 shots in the first half (including one in which the 7’4 big man was somehow blocked from behind) while Roberts didn’t put up a single look.
Some late heroics by Green kept the game somewhat within reach heading into the break. Quade got a steal after an Arizona bobble and pulled up to knock down a 3-pointer. On the next UW possession he pulled up and knocked down a midrange jumper to bring the score to 42-28 at the break. Green once again got no help from his supporting cast as he had nearly half UW’s points with 13 of their 28 at halftime while the rest of the team was 1/9 from deep.
Coming out of the break Arizona struggled to make shots but that didn’t slow down their offense as Washington repeatedly fouled their centers down low. Wildcat big men had 5 free throw makes in the first 4 minutes of the half. Washington’s offense though continued to struggle as missed shot after missed shot piled up. The Huskies managed to keep things between 20 and 24 points throughout most of the 2nd half before a James Akinjo 3-pointer with 5:11 remaining finally pushed the lead over 25 points at 68-41 for Arizona.
Quade Green managed to rediscover his offense at that point as he consistently drove and was able to hit a circus layup or get fouled. However, the defense couldn’t do anything to stop Arizona and Washington wasn’t able to cut into the lead much at all. Nate Roberts tried to get on the scoreboard and forced a few shots in the final minutes but wasn’t able to get the ball in the basket. With 1:01 remaining there was a bit of a scary moment as Quade Green was tripped and appeared to be in some pain but he stayed in the game to make a free throw as both teams put in their walk-ons.
There were no bright spots in this game outside of Quade Green snapping out of his funk. Green finished with a game high 23 points. No other Dawgs had more than 7 points and Quade clearly got frustrated by the burden he had to carry as it brought down his shooting percentage. He finished 3/13 from deep but several of those shots were at the end of possessions where there were seemingly no other options besides a contested launch.
Washington was outrebounded 58-30 including 19 offensive boards for Arizona. It wasn’t just one player either as 5 Arizona players finished with between 5 and 7 rebounds. They were similarly balanced on offense with 7 players scoring at least 8 points. I believe I counted 5 times where Nate Roberts couldn’t control a rebound and had it go off his hands out of bounds. But the way the Huskies played on offense tonight it’s not clear that extra possessions would have done much of anything.
The Huskies are scheduled to play next against Arizona State on Saturday but that game (perhaps mercifully) may not happen as the Sun Devils were forced to cancel against Wazzu tonight because of COVID cases in their program. Just based on the need for travel it would seem that a decision will have to be made by early tomorrow.