Erik Stevenson came off his best game since joining UW in the Huskies’ last outing and once again topped the team in scoring. Unfortunately he didn’t get much help as no other Dawg had at least a dozen points and USC torched Washington inside to emerge with an effortless 95-68 win over the hapless Huskies. With the loss the Dawgs drop to 1-10 (0-6) on the season.
The ability of USC to dominate in the paint with the tallest team in the country was apparent from nearly the opening tip. The Huskies did force a turnover from USC’s 5-star stud Evan Mobley on the first possession but that was one of the few mistakes he made all game. The same is true for the Trojan offense as when they managed to get up a shot it tended to go in the basket.
USC made their first 8 shots from the floor including 3 alley-oop dunks. 2 of those connections were from Mobley to Mobley as the big brothers showed off their well rounded game operating out of the middle of the Husky zone. UW kept the lead within striking range for much of the first half though as they won the possession battle and combined it with some decent long-range shooting. Washington had 9 offensive rebounds in the first half while USC turned the ball over 7 times.
Riley Sorn knocked down a pair of free throws with 8 minutes left in the half to keep the Huskies within single digits at 27-18. However on the next possession Evan Mobley kicked it out to an open USC shooter, got an offensive rebound, did it again, and this time the Trojans made it to push the lead out to double digits where it stayed the rest of the game. USC finally started missing some shots eventually but the Huskies repeatedly put them on the free throw line and went into an offensive funk which allowed the lead to stretch out of control.
In the final minute of the first half Nate Roberts twice in a row failed to get back in transition which led to consecutive dunks and put USC up by more than 20 points at 44-23. Erik Stevenson led UW in scoring at the half with 7 points although he needed 10 shot attempts to get there while the Dawgs turned it over 10 times. The Mobley brothers had a combined 19 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks for USC at the break.
Washington’s offense picked up a little coming out of halftime. The Huskies scored 12 points in the first 4 minutes as Hameir Wright made a trio of free throws and Erik Stevenson hit a transition corner 3-pointer. A Quade Green pullup free throw line jumper cut the lead to 14 at 50-36. UW tried to press following the make but it backfired as USC nailed an open 3-pointer and on the next possession hit a step back 3 to immediately push the Trojan lead back out to 20.
On Washington’s next two possessions Quade Green dribbled too far into the lane which led to easy steals by USC. From there the Huskies and the refs apparently decided that USC hadn’t had enough free throw attempts in the second half. The Trojans attempted an astounding 16 free throws over a 5 minute period during which their lead stayed steady in the 25 point range.
For most of that stretch Hopkins went with a lineup featuring Erik Stevenson at point guard. The playing time roulette continued for Washington in this one as neither Nate Pryor nor Marcus Tsohonis saw the court. Quade Green with his 2/11 shooting and 6 turnovers didn’t play the majority of the second half either. With the Husky offense in another funk the Trojans were able to repeatedly get the ball on lobs inside and finish with dunk after dunk that pushed the lead out to 30 points at times.
Stevenson ended up with a team high 16 points and Washington may have found something as he twice got the ball on the same inbounds play to hit open corner 3-pointers. Jamal Bey finished in double figures for the 3rd straight game with 11 points while Nate Roberts had 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Washington struggled to hit shots inside against USC’s length but shot 39% from 3-pt range and 79% from the free throw line. That should keep them competitive on most nights. The problem was USC finished with 52/39/70 shooting splits as a team including a 37-19 edge in free throw attempts and 8 made dunks. They also cleaned things up in the second half with just 3 turnovers after the break.
The Huskies take the court next on Saturday afternoon at UCLA who is the only undefeated team in the conference.
EDIT 9:12p: This explains why we did not see any of Pryor tonight.
Mike Hopkins says Nate Pryor didn't make the trip due to personal reasons.— Lauren Kirschman (@laurenkirschman) January 15, 2021