UW Men's Basketball | Huskies drop 3rd in a row, fall to 9th
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Washington Huskies are alone in ninth place halfway through the Pac-10 schedule after Saturday's 79-75 loss to California, leaving March Madness as faint as a whisper.
But Washington coach Lorenzo Romar insists there's still hope despite a third consecutive loss and first weekend sweep at Edmundson Pavilion since January 2004.
"If we keep things in the right perspective and we stay together, we are really close," said Romar after UW fell to 12-10 overall, 3-6 in Pac-10.
Maybe as close as 15 feet.
If ever the Huskies lost a game because of their seasonlong free-throw problems it was this one. Washington was 8 of 18 at the line, while Cal was 14 of 16.
"Obviously that would have helped us in such a close game," said UW's Artem Wallace, who had a breakout day with a career-high 17 points and 10 rebounds. "Nobody's trying to miss on purpose, so we'll just keep working to get better."
Maybe if the Huskies had made a few more the score wouldn't have been tied at 72 with 27 seconds left when Cal's Patrick Christopher made a three-pointer to put the Bears ahead for good. Ryan Appleby then missed on the other end, and the Bears (13-7, 4-5) made two more free throws to clinch the game.
"Christopher hit a monster three," Romar said.
Christopher's teammate, Ryan Anderson, meanwhile, was simply a monster. The 6-foot-10 sophomore scored 33 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, scoring 15 in a row in one second-half stretch as the Bears took the lead for good.
"There are just moments in the game where you feel like you can't miss," said Anderson, who made 11 of 19 shots and 4 of 7 three-pointers.
Anderson's 15-point run came while UW's Jon Brockman was sitting on the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 16:17 left. Brockman, who suffered a groin strain in practice Monday, was held to 15 points and just four rebounds, the latter helping Cal to a 41-34 rebounding edge.
Brockman played just 12 minutes in the first half after picking up three fouls. The third came after he missed a free throw, with Wallace ready to replace him.
But Wallace stepped in with nine points and seven rebounds in the first half as UW grabbed a 33-28 lead despite shooting just 14 of 36 from the field and 1 of 5 from the three-point line.
Still, Washington played with more energy than in Thursday's desultory 65-51 loss to Stanford. Brockman led a players-only meeting before Saturday's game, and the Huskies responded with 14 offensive rebounds in the first half.
"I liked our effort and our enthusiasm and our energy," Brockman said.
Washington led 51-46 with 13:11 left when Anderson began his run. He hit a three-pointer, a layin, a midrange jumper, a three-pointer, another three-pointer and a layin, scoring 15 points in 5:02 to give Cal the lead for good.
"I thought that was the pivotal point of the game," said Romar.
Cal led 70-61 with 3:58 left when the Huskies rallied to tie it with 1:20 left, going on an 11-2 run in a span of 2:38. The run was keyed by eight points from Ryan Appleby, who finished with a team-high 19 after scoring just three in the first half on 1-for-9 shooting.
Anderson then missed a three-pointer with 45 seconds left, but the Huskies couldn't control the rebound.
Romar wondered later if Brockman's injury prevented him from getting to the ball as it bounded back to Anderson. After a timeout, Cal called a play designed for either Christopher or Anderson. Christopher, a 6-5 sophomore who finished with 20, decided to take the shot, stepping back and drilling it over UW freshman Justin Holiday.
"He had a lot of guts to take that shot," Romar said.
It leaves the Huskies with a gut check as USC and UCLA come to town for games.
The Huskies spent about 15 minutes in the locker room afterward, with Romar telling them, "We are in it for the long haul."
Later, he leaned against a wall, disappointed that UW doesn't have the winning conference record he had envisioned at this point, but insisting he remains optimistic.
"I feel like we have decent enough leadership to where they won't let our guys quit," he said.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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