February 28, 2011

Huskies' first half a low point in Romar era

Coming into Sunday's game, most everyone knew the rivalry between the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars could get a little ugly. It was no surprise when three technical fouls were called, a fight nearly broke out, and bodies were crashing to the floor from hard fouls throughout the game.

What was surprising is that the ugliest part of the game for the Huskies came in a half when none of those things really occurred.

The Huskies scored just 17 points in the first half, the lowest ever under head Coach Lorenzo Romar. In that half, the Huskies shot just 22.2 percent, and turned the ball over nine times.

"We were standing around way too much, it just wasn't a real clean half," Romar said.

As bad as the Huskies played in the first half, they were still in the game at halftime thanks to Washington State having troubles of its own.

The Cougars struggled shooting the ball, making just 32 percent of their shots in the first half. The Cougars were careless with the ball, turning it over 10 times. Junior Klay Thompson struggled the most with five turnovers in the half.

"I felt like both teams were a little tight and somewhat tentative," Washington State coach Ken Bone said.

Credit should be given to the defenses. Both teams were active and aggressive in pursuing the ball during the first half.

Washington on outside looking in?

A year ago, Washington was 10-7 in the Pac-10, and 20-9 overall, but it looked as if they had no shot to make the NCAA tournament.

Following the loss, the Huskies are just one game better than last season, which could put them in a must-win situation for the conference tournament.

"We have to go out and win the Pac-10 tournament," Justin Holiday said. "Even if we don't, I think we should go out and do it anyway just to be sure."

Just three days ago, Romar seemed confident that the Huskies were on the inside of the NCAA tournament bubble, but after the loss, he didn't seem so sure.

"I don't think it advances us, that's for sure," he said.

The Huskies have two conference home games remaining against UCLA and USC to try to strengthen their NCAA tournament bid before they head to California for the Pac-10 tournament.

Cougars own state for first time since 2008

Washington State has not swept Washington since 2008, a year when the Cougars were ranked as high as fourth in the country.

"I don't like losing at all, but losing to a team twice is really not a good feeling," said Holiday.

Would the Huskies be up for a rematch?

"Yeah I want to play them again," Holiday said. "If we get them, OK good, but if not, we just have to bring it."

The rivalry win wasn't the only thing the Cougars are excited about. It not only gives them momentum, but also an outside chance to make the NCAA tournament.

"I would say so," WSU coach Ken Bone said, when asked if it was the biggest win of the season for the Cougars, also adding, "especially the timing of it We desperately needed it."

Cougars clutch from line

Klay Thompson missed his first free throw of the game, but after that, he rattled off 13 consecutive made free throws.

He wasn't the only one making his shots. The Cougars finished the game 32 of 36, which was a key to them holding off a fury by the Huskies late in the second half.

"To compete in that atmosphere you really need to be locked in and focused," Bone said. "I thought out guys did exactly that and it translated into good free throw shooting."

While the Cougars made just about all of their shots, the Huskies struggled at the line, especially Isaiah Thomas, who for the second game in a row missed several free throws short.

As a team, the Huskies were 15 of 24 from the line, but that includes a couple of misses on the front end of a one and one.

Fastbreaks

The Huskies were 14-0 at home before Sunday night. They had previously won every home game by double digits. …

Matthew Bryan-Amaning did not score until midway through the second half. He finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds, his third double-double in the last four games. …

The loss makes it very difficult for Washington to earn the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament.…Thompson finished with a game-high 26 points and only had one turnover in the second half. …

DeAngelo Casto scored 20 points and collected 13 rebounds… Romar, UW's Venoy Overton and WSU's Marcus Capers received technical fouls in the game. … The Huskies lost for the fourth time this season in a game they outrebounded their opponent. Washington outrebounded Washington State 44-36, including 24 offensive rebounds.


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