Playing their first of eight in a row in Seattle (seven at Alaska Airlines Arena, one at KeyArena), the Washington Huskies (2-3) were no match for the Colorado State Rams (4-0) of the Mountain West Conference Saturday night, falling 73-55 in a game in which UW was outworked and over-matched.
"We just got out-toughed," said head coach Lorenzo Romar. "We can't let that happen again."
Playing their first of eight in a row in Seattle (seven at Alaska Airlines Arena, one at KeyArena), the Huskies did not have the services of injured guard Scott Suggs, but it's unlikely that the senior's presence would have altered the outcome. The Rams, who trailed 30-28 at intermission, outscored the bewildered Huskies 45-25 in the second half.
Washington had a six-point lead with 17:09 remaining. Then Colorado State, sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Dorian Green and three turnovers by the Huskies, went on a 15-0 run to lead 47-38. During that stretch, Washington went six minutes without a field goal.
"They made a run and we didn't rally up," admitted guard Abdul Gaddy.
The game was effectively over at that point, but the Rams, who had an overwhelming edge in rebounding, continued to pile it on.
"Once they got their confidence going in the second half, they buried their shots and we couldn't get anything going," said C.J. Wilcox, who scored a career-high 28 points, more than half of Washington's points. "We've got to nip this in the bud right now and take care of this thing."
Washington, a loser to Albany in its last home game, has now lost back-to-back non-conference home games for the first time in more than a decade.
"We were confident coming into this game, but they just got the best of us," said Wilcox, who made 11 of 25 shots. "I'm shaken by a 20-point loss at home, so we are going to have to have a lot of guys step up. Saint Louis (Washington's next opponent) will come in and have the same mentality as Colorado State."
Colorado State shot 43.3 percent from the floor, but took 67 shots to Washington's 50 on the basis of an overwhelming CSU advantage in rebounding, 45-21. The Rams dominated the offensive boards, 24-7, leading to numerous second-chance shots.
"We talked to our team before the game about that," said Romar. "They had 24 offensive rebounds and that's way too much to give up. We just couldn't get the ball when it came off the backboard, and then they started hitting their shots. They go hard and they go every time."
The Huskies suffered in two other ways. They had no player step up offensively aside from Wilcox. Abdul Gaddy scored nine points, but all came in the first half. He finished with just one assist and four turnovers. Also, Washington had just five points off its bench, all from Andrew Andrews.
"C.J. was just worn out by the end of the game," said Romar. "We didn't have much point production aside from him. Gaddy couldn't get his legs under him, and he just couldn't get anything going in the second half."
Suggs sat out with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and now Washington is looking at being without the senior guard for perhaps as long as two or three weeks.
"We missed his points and his ability to run the offense," said Romar. "We have to find a way to come back against Saint Louis and find a way to get it done."
"It's tough with Scott out of there," added Wilcox. I knew I had to be aggressive."
The Huskies return Wednesday at Alaska Airlines Arena with a 9 p.m. tipoff against Saint Louis, formerly coached by Romar. The Huskies have lost three consecutive games to Saint Louis, including two in the Romar era. Last year, Washington lost at Saint Louis 77-64.