The Washington Huskies men’s basketball team had one nonconference game left. It was against Stony Brook, at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, with UW’s unbeaten record heading into Pac-12 play on the line.
The Huskies led by 16 points in the second half. But once the Seawolves grabbed their first lead of the game, they didn’t let go, leaving the 13th-ranked Huskies stunned after a 62-57 loss.
“Mentally, we weren’t there,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. “And with so much at stake, you wonder why not.”
Robert Upshaw led the Huskies (11-1) with 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks off the bench. Their starting backcourt — Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews — combined to make 8 of 26 shots (31 percent). Jernard Jarreau made 1 of 6.
The Huskies didn’t make a shot from the field the final 6:38 of the game.
“We got to play hard for 48 minutes,” said Andrews, who finished with seven points. “We played hard only in spurts, and that came back to bite us.”
The Huskies were hoping to head to Cal (7 p.m. Friday, Pac-12 Networks) with their best start since 1975-76.
Stony Brook (8-6) is favored to win the America East this year, but wasn’t expected to contend with a hot Huskies squad coming off wins over then-13th-ranked San Diego State and No. 15 Oklahoma, among others.
UW took a 47-31 lead with 14:36 to play in the second half, but Stony Brook slowly pulled its way back. The Huskies surrendered open 3-pointer after open 3 in the second half, with Kameron Mitchell connecting on 4 of 5.
Off the bench, Mitchell scored all of his 12 points from the 3-point line. Jameel Warney, who had 15 points and eight rebounds, frequently found him from the post after Mitchell didn’t attempt a shot in the first half.
His fourth 3 cut the Huskies’ lead to 55-52 with 3:51 left.
“We didn’t do a good job of knowing where he was,” Romar said. “He was a guy we talked about. We talked about that he had a slow release … but if he got it off he could knock it down. Unfortunately in the second half he got it off.”
Mitchell finally missed — an open 3 from the corner — that would have tied it at 57, but the Huskies never ended their offensive funk. And Carson Puriefoy responded with a 3 to tie it with 1:08 to play.
Williams-Goss turned it over on the baseline, and Warney made a jumper over the outstretched arms of Upshaw, the nation’s leading shot blocker coming into the game, to give Stony Brook its first lead — with 34 seconds remaining in the game.
Mike Anderson missed two free throws with six seconds left to cap the Huskies’ finish.
“There was no doubt in my mind that everyone on the court thought we were going to win,” Andrews said. “We just didn’t come up with the stops we needed to in the end.”
This after coming off a three-day break for Christmas. Romar before the game said he believed it refreshed the Huskies after a sluggish win over Tulane last week.
“We just didn’t have that extra edge like we’ve had in most of the nonconference season,” he said.
UW led by double digits for most of the game, including 35-26 at halftime thanks to a Darin Johnson 3-pointer. But it never made the push it needed to put Stony Brook away.
“Over the years, I’ve learned that when you come out with a performance like this, there is something going on,” Romar said. “Not that there is internal conflict, but there is something.
“Sometimes success is hard to handle. I thought tonight we reverted back to kind of how we played a lot last year.”
Still, Washington matched the 2005-06 team with 11 consecutive wins to start the season. And looking back, Romar said he is still happy having gone 11-1 in nonconference play.
But it certainly stings.
“We aren’t going to let one loss set us back,” Williams-Goss said. “We just know that we got to get better. Any given night we can drop a game like we did tonight. We are going into Cal, we got a couple days to prepare and get our mindset right and get ready to come back to work.”
Said Andrews: “It adds more fuel to the fire. We got a team that is full of chips on their shoulders. This is going to put another chip on there.”