LOS ANGELES – Undermanned and undersized, the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team visited Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday night with little chance of defeating the UCLA Bruins.
And they played like it.
The Huskies trailed by double-digits for the final 33 minutes of this embarrassing game, an 88-66 throttling before a crowd of 7,841 that diminished any positive feelings UW may have experienced after Sunday night’s victory at Washington State.
That win snapped a seven-game losing streak, and the Huskies hoped it might vault them toward more encouraging play this week.
Never miss a local story.
It did not.
But it didn’t help that the Huskies (15-12, 4-11 in Pac-12) played without 6-foot-9 senior forward Shawn Kemp Jr., who sat out due to a concussion. The Huskies were steamrolled as a result, the Bruins outscoring them 50-20 in the paint.
UW coach Lorenzo Romar said Kemp suffered the concussion when WSU guard Ny Redding bumped Kemp in the chin with his head during the second half of Sunday’s game. Kemp sat out the rest of that game, and though he progressed slightly on Monday and Tuesday, he still wasn’t cleared to play. Romar is hopeful that Kemp can play Saturday against USC.
“Like we’ve been doing since Sunday, (we’ve) just got to wait until tomorrow,” Romar said, “and hopefully tomorrow his symptoms have really, really decreased so that he’s able to go on Saturday.”
UCLA (17-12, 9-7) quickly eliminated any idea that the Huskies might win this game. The Bruins made their first six field-goal attempts, including two easy baskets by forward Tony Parker and three makes by guard Norman Powell, and led 13-2 before three minutes had passed.
Those easy shots near the rim were not an aberration – UCLA had a few more of them as it jumped to a 19-5 lead, then an overwhelming 46-25 advantage at halftime. The Bruins shot 62.7 percent from the field, dominated the backboards – they finished with a 42-20 rebounding advantage – and simply proved themselves to be a much better basketball team than UW. The Bruins led by 20 or more points for the final 18 minutes of the game.
With Kemp out, the Huskies were again reduced to just two post players – 6-foot-10 forward Jernard Jarreau, and little-used 7-foot center Gilles Dierickx. And when Jarreau picked up two fouls in the game’s first four minutes, UW’s frontcourt became even more helpless against UCLA’s dribble penetration and post entries to Parker, who stands 6-foot-9 and weighs 260 pounds.
Winning without 7-foot center Robert Upshaw (dismissed Jan. 26) is difficult enough for the Huskies. With Kemp out, too, it’s close to impossible.
“From their first two, three possessions, (Parker) is catching the ball at point-blank range,” Romar said. “That allowed them to set the tone, right then. Shawn is strong enough to not allow guys to catch it that deep. He’s been able to do that all year, to prevent them from just getting those easy baskets like that. Now you’ve got to go with another option.”
Said UW point guard Nigel Williams-Goss: “There’s not much you can do with five guys 6-4 and below and they’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the conference – actually, the best offensive rebounding team in the conference – and they really exploited their size down low.”
So porous was the Huskies’ defense – and their offense wasn’t any better, as they shot only 29 percent from the field in the first half – that Parker and Powell combined to match UW’s first-half scoring output (25 points) by themselves. Powell finished with 24 points, Parker added 20 and sophomore guard Isaac Hamilton scored 16.
The game was over at halftime, but they went ahead and played the final 20 minutes anyway. Washington shot the ball much better during that time – the Huskies made 11 of 19 from 3-point range, including 9 of their first 15 – but never did threaten to make the game remotely interesting.
Andrew Andrews, who scored 35 points last week against WSU, led the Huskies with 18 points on 5-for-16 shooting. Williams-Goss added 17 points and eight assists.
“These are the hands that we’re dealt,” Williams-Goss said, referring to UW’s thin frontcourt, “and we’re going to out there and play to the best of our abilities.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME – UCLA guard Norman Powell led all scorers with 24 points on 11-for-17 shooting, and added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes. UCLA forward Tony Parker added 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting and five rebounds in just 23 minutes.
IT WAS OVER WHEN – The Bruins raced to a 19-5 lead in the game’s first six minutes, and the Huskies never trailed by fewer than nine points thereafter.
STAT OF THE GAME – UCLA shot 62.7 percent from the field, a figure aided by Parker’s dominance in the paint. The Bruins also outrebounded the Huskies 42-20.
QUOTABLE – “it’s going to be tough playing in a Power-6 conference to be playing on the floor with five guys 6-4 and below. That’s going to be tough for any team.” – UW guard Nigel Williams-Goss on the Huskies’ lack of size
WHAT IT MEANS – This season is already lost for the Huskies, so another defeat doesn’t really do much tangible damage in the short or long-term. And UW will likely seek comfort in the fact that it had to play without starting forward Shawn Kemp Jr. But the Huskies’ defensive shortcomings are still apparent all over the floor, and it has to be considered somewhat alarming that they allowed so much dribble penetration by UCLA’s guards.
UP NEXT – Washington at USC, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 (Pac-12 Networks)
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple