After two games, Washington already has a loss that could haunt it for the rest of the season.
The Huskies let a disjointed first half turn into a mediocre second half in a stunning 63-62 loss to Albany on Tuesday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Great Danes point guard Mike Black drove from the top of the key against C.J. Wilcox for the winning layup with 3.7 seconds left in the game.
Washington called back-to-back timeouts with 29 seconds left, leaving the Huskies with no timeouts after Black scored. Abdul Gaddy shot a deep 3-pointer that hit the right side of the rim as the clock expired.
That miss left Albany jubilant, calling the win the biggest in program history, and the Huskies in disbelief. They are 1-1 after losing for the second time against a non-conference opponent at home since the 2007-08 season.
They not only lost to a lowly regarded non-conference opponent, but lost senior shooter Scott Suggs to what the school said was a concussion 1:30 into the game. The timetable for his return is unknown.
Solemn UW coach Lorenzo Romar pushed blame onto himself postgame.
“I take full responsibility for what just happened, that’s on me,” Romar said. “Can’t place the blame anywhere else.”
Despite pushing out to a 48-40 lead with 10:58 remaining in the second half, the Huskies could not put away the Great Danes. After Washington played flat for much of the night – “We weren’t ourselves, for whatever reason,” Romar said – it went on a 16-5 run early in the second half.
But Albany adjusted. While Washington’s big men lingered on screens, Albany’s big men started to go to the hoop. It resulted in several easy baskets for the Danes, often late in the shot clock.
In addition, Albany shifted to a zone defense much of the half. The Huskies couldn’t figure out how to effectively break it down.
Perhaps the most damning and indicative play of the second half was when Washington allowed a backdoor layup to Albany’s Sam Rowley.
Gaddy had knocked the ball away, leaving Albany inbounding on the baseline with one second on the shot clock. Rowley came free for the layup to put the Danes in front 56-53 with 2:49 left.
Aziz N’Diaye had his second consecutive double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He was fouled with 21 seconds left and Washington down a point, but missed both free throws. Gaddy (team-high 16 points) zipped to the second miss, gathered the rebound, then scored for a short-lived 62-61 Washington lead with 18 seconds left. That would be the end of any Washington joy on the night.
Albany (2-1) went into Ohio State on Sunday and got whacked by the fourth-ranked Buckeyes, 82-60. Then the Danes had to fly all the way out to Seattle.
Albany was unfazed and apparently not fatigued. The Huskies trudged through the game from the start.
Suggs was elbowed in the head with 18:30 left in the first half and fell to the floor. He was woozy and appeared searching for his balance as he struggled to get up. Play was stopped, and Suggs was slowly helped off the court by two Washington trainers. He did not return.
Desmond Simmons took a shot to the right eye that cut him in the first half, forcing him to leave the game and head to the locker room. He returned with a large bandage over his eye.
Jernard Jarreau started at power forward for the second consecutive game, but he was in foul trouble early. His foul trouble and the departure of Simmons forced N’Diaye to play several first-half minutes with two fouls. Washington was able to get away with N’Diaye not drawing his third foul prior to the end of the half. Simmons and Andrew Andrews started the second half for Washington.
Wilcox started the game 0-for-6 and finished the half 1-for-8 from the field before finishing 5-for-14 for 11 points. The Huskies turned the ball over eight times and made 12 field goals in the half. It was the second consecutive slow start for Washington, which led Loyola (Md.) at the half, 33-31, in Sunday’s opener.
Blended together, the Huskies have a loss that will be listed on the negative side of the ledger if they reach consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
“If we let this turn into two or three (losses), yes, it will” haunt the team, Romar said. “If we can go on from here and not stub our toe again, then lesson learned early in the year. If this is a recurring theme, it would be a big blow to us down the road.”
It was Tuesday firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas