The Washington Huskies (21-9, 14-4 Pac-12) squandered a chance to win the Pac-12 title outright Saturday by losing to UCLA 75-69 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and now the matter is out of their hands. UW will have to await the outcome of Sunday’s California-Stanford game to see if they are the league’s champion or share it with the Bears, and what their Pac-12 tournament seeding will be.
If Stanford defeats California, the Huskies will win the conference regular-season championship outright for just the third time since 1953 with a 14-4 record (21-9) overall to Cal’s 13-5. UW will also receive the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament that starts Wednesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
If Cal beats Stanford, the Bears and Huskies will share the conference title and Cal will receive the No. 1 seed in the tournament because the Bears beat Washington earlier in the season at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Washington, which led by as many as nine points against the Bruins, had a 60-55 lead in the second half, but scored just nine points in the final 12 minutes as shot after shot clanked. The Huskies, plagued by turnovers down the stretch, made 55 percent of their attempts in the first half, but just 32 percent in the second.
UCLA scored 10 of the game’s final 12 points, four on free throws inside of a minute.
“UCLA just defended better in the second half and were more physical,” said UW guard Abdul Gaddy, who had a career-high 12 assists, 10 in the first half. “For the most part, I thought we played well on the offensive end. In the second half, we had the looks, but the shots just weren’t going in. It came down to the final four minutes, but things happened and they came out on top.”
Washington led 60-55 with 12:45 to play after C.J. Wilcox, who led the Huskies with 22 points, hit a 3-pointer. After UW lost the ball twice on turnovers, UCLA went up 63-62 at the 8:31 mark, and then made it 65-62 after completing a 10-2 run.
When Gaddy knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:32 left, Washington had a 67-65 lead, but former Kentwood star Joshua Smith hit a jumper to tie it at 67. Washington had a chance to take the lead with 1:10 to play, but Darnell Gant, who led the Huskies with 10 rebounds, missed a 3-point attempt. UCLA’s final margin of victory came mainly as a result of Washington’s four turnovers in the final three minutes.
“I thought the difference in the game was that they (UCLA) got 11 points off turnovers in the second half,” said UW head coach Lorenzo Romar, whose Huskies saw a five-game winning streak snapped and also lost an opportunity to beat UCLA for a fifth consecutive time, which would have tied UW’s longest winning streak against the Bruins.
Romar also said he regretted the fact that Gant took the 3-pointer, considering that Terrence Ross, who had already popped in four treys, was wide open.
“We had been making the extra pass all game,” Romar said. “If we had made that one more pass to Terrence Ross (the outcome) might have been different. It’s unfortunate Darnell wasn’t able to knock that down.
“I thought we played at a high level for the most part, but it just wasn’t there for 40 minutes,” Romar continued. “In fact, I was worried heading into the second half. We hit 55 percent in the first half and were only up by three (47-44). It will take a day for our guys to let this soak in, but we’ll move on. There are still a lot of positives for us to draw from. We can’t let a close loss like this deflate our season. We’ll turn the page and get ready for the Pac-12 tournament.”
Asked about Washington’s expected participation in the NCAA Tournament, Romar said, “I understand that the league hasn’t had as many non-conference wins as it should, but it just seems like we would be in the tournament. But I’m not on the NCAA Selection Committee. We have to go out now in the Pac-12 tournament and be the best we can be and not leave anything to chance.”
Wilcox made 9 of 12 shots en route to 22 points, and Ross was 4 of 9 from 3-point range en route to 18. But Ross committed five of UW’s 14 turnovers. Leading scorer Tony Wroten, who had 11 points in the first half, scored only three in the second.
Gaddy’s 12 assists were the most in a game for Washington since Isaiah Thomas had 12 against Oregon on March 11, 2011 in the Pac-10 tournament.
“Gaddy was just a maestro at setting up his teammates,” said Romar. “If he had scored more points (just five) he would have had a monster game.”
“I think we’ll bounce back and be just fine,” said Gaddy.
Lazeric Jones led UCLA with 20 points and Travis Wear added 16 and 10 rebounds, but Tyler Lamb was the most disruptive force on the floor with four steals and numerous tipped passes that denied Washington scoring opportunities.
University of Washington 2011-12 Schedule/Results
(Rankings Are Current)
|Date||Opponent||UW Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|11/4/11||vs. Seattle Pacific||—||—||W||77-60||0-0|
|11/12/11||vs. Georgia State||—||—||W||91-74||1-0|
|11/13/11||vs. Florida Atlantic||—||—||W||77-71||2-0|
|11/20/11||at Saint Louis||—||—||L||77-64||3-1|
|11/25/11||vs. Houston Baptist||—||—||W||88-65||4-1|
|12/2/11||at Nevada||—||—||L||76-73 (OT)||4-2|
|12/16/11||vs. UC Santa-Barbara||—||—||W||87-80||5-4|
|12/18/11||vs. South Dakota St.||—||—||L||92-73||5-5|
|12/22/11||vs. Cal-State Northridge||—||—||W||74-50||6-5|
|12/29/11||vs. Oregon State||—||—||W||95-80||7-5|
|1/10/12||vs. Seattle U.||—||—||W||91-83||10-6|
|1/15/12||vs. Washington St.||—||—||W||75-65||11-6|
|1/26/12||at Arizona St.||—||—||W||60-54||13-7|
|2/12/12||at Oregon St.||—||—||W||75-72||17-8|
|2/16/12||vs. Arizona State||—||—||W||77-69||18-8|
|2/25/12||at Washington St.||—||—||W||59-55||20-8|