Close games have come with the territory in Mike Hopkins’ first season at Washington. And as of late, so have long scoreless stretches.
Saturday has both. The Huskies (13-5, 3-2 Pac-12 Conference) went through two dry spells only to make things interesting.
UW got within two points with less than four minutes left yet fell short in a 73-64 loss to Stanford at the Alaska Airlines Arena.
“It was just one of those games,” Hopkins said. “I made two defensive calls ... I thought those were the two back-breakers. That’s one me. Those are the calls.
“Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t.”
Hopkins played the averages and called for two defensive sets. Stanford (10-8, 4-1) was 2 of 9 from the 3-point line only to hit two 3’s for a 68-60 lead with 2:25 remaining.
Those baskets provided the necessary cushion for the Cardinal to escape Hec Edmundson Pavilion with a win.
It’s only the second time this season the Huskies have lost a game decided by fewer than 10 points. They were 9-1 in those contests.
“It’s just a part of life,” Huskies freshman guard Jaylen Nowell said. “Some days you’re able to push it out. Some days you’re not. We definitely learned from this experience.”
Fighting through dry spells has been an issue for the Huskies as of late. They went on a 3 of 30 stretch in a loss to UCLA.
UW, in wins over California and Washington State, managed to overcome separate scoreless periods of more than four minutes.
Up 41-40 early in the second half, the Huskies underwent one of their longest scoreless frames of the season.
At first, they went 0 for 6 and didn’t make a shot for nearly seven minutes.
Eventually, the Huskies would go 1 for 11 and it gave the Cardinal an opening to take a 58-47 lead with 8:28 left.
“I put that on me,” Huskies junior point guard David Crisp said of the team’s scoreless stretches. “Just not properly executing those sets and being out of place. A lot of times guys are out of place, we don’t have the space. And a lot of times we’re holding the ball and get stagnant.”
Washington fell into an early hole in the first half by shooting 2 of 8 from the field. It soon translated into a 3 of 13 effort with Stanford taking a 15-8 lead with 10:36 remaining.
Hopkins began making adjustments. The first was creating shots for Dominic Green. His initial 3-pointer cut the lead to 25-19 and it also breathed life into what was a stagnant crowd.
UW would trim it to 27-24 when Green launched another 3-pointer with 5:15 left.
The Huskies, after forcing a miss on the other end, got into transition and cut the lead to 27-26 off a uncontested layup from Crisp.
Nowell gave the Huskies their first lead when he hit a step-back 18-foot jumper for a 28-27 edge with 3:35 left.
His go-ahead basket was just the start. Junior forward Matisse Thybulle, on the next Cardinal possession, sent a shot from Stanford’s Isaac White into the third row of the stands.
One of Hopkins’ biggest alterations was how he used sophomore center Sam Timmins in the half’s final three minutes.
The 6-foot-11 Timmins firmly occupied the paint and became a rim protector. It forced the Cardinal into taking more contested shots from outside the paint.
If there was a break, Hopkins would take out Timmins and use freshman forward Hameir Wright on the offensive end to create a different look.
Stanford, despite holding a 35-33 lead at half, went 2 for its final 10. UW, meanwhile, converted 9 of its last 16 shots to end the frame with a 43.8 percent clip.
Hopkins gave minutes to nine of his players in the first half.
“There are a lot of different variables that are going into the game,” Hopkins said. “But certain lineups ... sometimes that’s where guys can’t get comfortable.”
Stanford had four players who finished in double figures including point guard Daejon Davis. The Seattle native finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Davis’ return was an interesting facet of the game. Both he and Nowell were teammates at Garfield High School and were each signed with the Huskies.
When UW fired Lorenzo Romar, Nowell was the only person in the original five-player class to stay.
Upon his return, the Dawg Pack had a sign with Nowell’s face that read “LOYALTY” and on the back it said “My socks are more loyal than Daejon.”
“I knew he was going to come out and he was going to come at us,” Nowell said. “That’s the type of player of he is. He played very well tonight.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark