UW off the mark in loss to Trojans
Seattle Times staff reporter
LOS ANGELES — Washington sophomore forward Quincy Pondexter rebounded his own missed free throw and tried to lay it back in from the left side.
When that clanged off the glass, he got the ball again and tried to lay it in from the right side.
That missed, too, a late-game sequence that was all too telling about what happened here Saturday as the Washington Huskies lost to the USC Trojans 66-51 at the Galen Center to fall to 0-3 in Pac-10 play.
The Huskies shot a season-low 33 percent (20 of 60), their worst since being held to 28.3 percent in a blowout at Washington State last season.
Pondexter was hardly the only guilty party as only Jon Brockman made more than half of his shots (7 of 12).
But he felt like it afterward, pointing to his 4-of-17 night and wondering what might have been had he been able to make just a few more.
"They were like layups," he said. "Very simple shots I really should have made, and I feel terrible. I take this loss as my own for the whole team."
Reality, however, is that offense is beginning to become a team-wide problem as the Huskies were held to 55 points or fewer for the third straight game, UW suddenly appearing nothing like the Washington squads of recent vintage that sometimes put up that many in a half.
"We have to figure out something to get into an offensive rhythm, something we can rely on that when we need a bucket we can go to that and score," said Brockman.
For a brief moment, it looked like UW might overcome its wayward shooting and steal a win. After falling down early 16-5, the Huskies battled back and took the lead twice midway through the second half, the final time at 43-42 with 10:32 left.
Then, in Brockman's words, "we kind of lost our minds a little bit on the offensive end, and that carried over to the defense."
In the next five minutes, the Huskies had three turnovers and missed all eight of their shots — once clanking four in one possession — allowing USC to score 14 in a row and take command for good.
"We began to miss a lot of easy shots around the rim, and as a result, I thought we kind of lost focus for the first time in a while defensively at that point and began to break down," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar.
The Huskies made one field goal from 10:32 to 2:12 of the second half in falling to 9-7 and becoming one of just two Pac-10 teams without a conference win while USC (10-6 overall) got its first conference win (1-3).
"Our defense was as good as it's been in league play," said USC coach Tim Floyd.
Indeed, UW was a paltry 4 of 18 from the three-point line as guard Ryan Appleby was held scoreless for the second consecutive game, missing all five of his shots.
Appleby, now 2 for 15 shooting in Pac-10 play, was blanketed by 6-5 guard Dwight Lewis, who had a game-high 17 points. That helped make up for a subpar game from USC's heralded freshman O.J. Mayo, who was held to 15 points.
"He [Appleby] had a couple of open looks," Romar said. "Ryan will break through. He just hasn't gotten in a great rhythm the last couple of games. It's a compliment to Ryan that teams are paying so much attention to him."
Romar says the idea is that when teams devote a lot of energy to eliminating one player, "other guys may be able to benefit. But we haven't been able to totally take advantage of it."
One problem is that this team is not yet able to "impose their will," in Romar's words, to set its own tempo. Romar had hoped this team would be more up-tempo this season than it was a year ago but UW hasn't been able to make that happen against good defensive teams.
"Don't get me wrong," he said. "I feel we have good basketball players. But you have to have superior players to be able to do that, and we haven't jelled yet that way to be able to do that. Maybe by the middle of conference play or whenever it happens, maybe Thursday, we will begin to make progress that way."
It better happen fast, or the season could slip away quickly.
"We are in a pretty tough situation right now," Brockman said. "We are a little buried in the hole, and we've got to dig ourselves out. And it's not like we have any teams coming up that are going to be easier to play against."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company