The losing streak is finally over.
And as difficult as it might have been for the Washington Huskies to finally win a basketball game after losing seven in a row, history suggests their next task should be even more challenging.
The Huskies beat Washington State, 87-84, on Sunday night in Pullman, their first victory in exactly a month. Junior guard Andrew Andrews scored a career-best 35 points and made the game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds, which vaulted him toward the first Pac-12 player of the week honor of his career.
But now the Huskies travel south for a game against the UCLA Bruins at Pauley Pavilion, where UW simply doesn’t win very often. The Huskies (15-11, 4-10 Pac-12) are 7-61 all-time against the Bruins in Los Angeles, and have won there just twice during coach Lorenzo Romar’s 13-year tenure — first in 2006, then again on the opening weekend of conference play in 2010-11.
They hope Andrews’ big game — and big shot, which sealed a big win — will spark a streak in the other direction.
Asked if the WSU game was the best of his career, Andrews said: “Yeah, if we get momentum off it. I just want to keep getting momentum going to UCLA and USC and try to carry this over, and hope we get a win down there.”
If Andrews continues his recent tear, the Huskies might have a chance. He’s averaging 19.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in UW’s last six games, and his season field-goal percentage is back above 40 percent for the first time since early in the nonconference schedule. And he’s quietly improved his 3-point shooting percentage to 36.4, which currently ranks 12th in the conference. Against WSU, Andrews became the 38th player in UW history to score 1,000 or more points in his career.
The Bruins (16-12, 8-7) took a hit to their NCAA tournament hopes last week by losing at both Arizona State and Arizona. Joe Lunardi, ESPN’s resident “bracketologist,” still includes UCLA in his most recent tournament projections — as a No. 11 seed, in a play-in game, and one of the final four teams in the field. So the Bruins desperately need to finish the regular season with three victories over Washington, Washington State and USC — all at home, and all opponents that will be considered underdogs — to solidify their postseason profile heading into the Pac-12 tournament.
With an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament out of reach for the Huskies, they simply want to continue improving upon last week’s encouraging victory in Pullman. Plus, a single win in any of their final four games would assure a final overall record above .500 — something that was in question during their disastrous seven-game losing streak.
Romar said he learned from the WSU game “that we need to play together. We still didn’t play great defense. But because we played together, stuck together, pulled for each other — that’s going to make us a better team (more) than a worse team.”