One of the best starts in coach Lorenzo Romar’s tenure at Washington is fading and its stay in the Top 25 is likely over after this weekend.
The No. 21 Huskies can at least fend off a major hit to their Pac-12 title aspirations by avoiding their first 0-2 start in conference play in seven seasons Sunday night against surging Stanford.
Washington won its first 11 games for just the second time in Romar’s 13 seasons but has dropped its last two. After a 62-57 upset to visiting Stony Brook on Dec. 28, it couldn’t slow down California in an 81-75 road loss in Friday’s league opener.
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The 81 points were the most allowed by the Huskies (11-2) this season, and they were outscored 54-43 and outshot 60.9 percent to 38.2 percent in the second half.
"Not to discredit them in any way, they played a great game and offensively they executed sets, but a lot of things in the second half were just defensive mishaps," guard Nigel Williams-Goss said. ”Shooting 60 percent from the field, you have to credit them for making shots, but they’re getting a lot of open looks if they shoot that high of a percentage. A lot of that is on us."
Williams-Goss had 19 points – matching his second-most this season – and nearly registered his first triple-double with nine assists and eight rebounds. The Huskies’ top scorer and conference’s assist leader (6.8 per game) will next try to keep his program from its first 0-2 start in Pac-12 play since it dropped its first three games in 2007-08.
Stanford is seeking a season-high fourth consecutive win. Its streak began with a 74-71 overtime road win over then-No. 9 Texas on Dec. 23, its sixth in the last nine matchups with Top 25 opponents.
The Cardinal took a 71-56 victory over visiting Washington State in their conference opener Friday. Chasson Randle scored 17 of his team-best 18 points in the second half to help Stanford (9-3) pull away after trailing by double digits in the first half.
"We need to play a lot better than today, especially when we have a tough schedule ahead of us," swingman Anthony Brown said. "We need to have a better start on our home court. Anytime you have a ranked opponent come to your house, you can’t let them leave with a win and that’s our mindset for the upcoming home game."
Randle is one of the Pac-12’s leading scorers with 18.4 points per game and matched his career high with 33 in the most recent visit from Washington, a 79-67 win Jan. 18. The Huskies needed a 64-60 home victory Feb. 12 to force a season split after winning nine of 10 matchups in the prior five campaigns.
Washington’s Robert Upshaw, the nation’s leader with 60 blocked shots, needs seven more to match the school’s single-season record. He has 15 blocks in his last three games.
The Huskies entered the Top 25 on Dec. 8 – their first appearance since March 2011 – and climbed as high as No. 13 before the Stony Brook loss.