University of Washington

Huskies look to tighten defense at Oregon State

The Washington Huskies are on the road again, and coach Lorenzo Romar hopes they remembered to pack their defense this time.

UW is on a four-game losing streak, and in each loss they have allowed their opponents to hit more than 50 percent of their shots from the field.

“We’ve got to keep people in front of us,” Romar said Saturday. “That’s easier said than done, but that’s what we have to do. We have to have maximum concentration when we’re in front of the basketball. Sometimes we close out, and we don’t have a great angle when we close out, they drive around us. We have to do a better job containing the ball screen. Sometimes … we don’t switch quick enough, and those are allowing teams to get to the rim on us more than we should.”

Romar saw his team’s 78-74 loss at Oregon on Wednesday as an improvement over their 90-88 loss at home to California on Feb. 1.

“We did a lot of good things — not enough to win the ballgame, though,” he said. “(Oregon is) a team that can get out and really burn you in transition. I thought we did a good job of limiting their production in terms of transition baskets. I thought we did a good job offensively: shot the ball well, but more so in the paint. I was pleased with how many we scored in the paint with our guards able to get in the lane and make layups.”

That could be more difficult against the Beavers, who are 13-0 at Gill Coliseum, equaling the school record.

Their key has been defense as Oregon State leads the Pac-12 in field goal (.368) and 3-point field goal (.280) percentage defense and is second in scoring defense (56.6 ppg), steals (7.41 avg) and turnover margin (plus-1.91). Their numbers are even better at home.

“They’re disciplined, yet with Gary Payton II out there, he’s pretty good at getting steals and turnovers,” Romar said. “… It’s zone and they give you a basic look, but they can adjust and give you different looks within it. Sometimes that can get teams to think. Sometimes when you think, you’re not playing basketball and consequently you turn the ball over.”

Oregon State’s offensive numbers don’t jump out as dramatically, but Romar said it’s up to the Huskies to keep them that way.

“Cal hadn’t been (an offensive juggernaut) either in their recent games,” he said. “We did a very poor job against them, and they became better that night. We can’t let that happen (again). … Oregon State obviously plays some stingy defense. So we’re going to have to find ways to put the ball in the basket, as well as not letting them go and score more points than they’ve score recently.”

Romar said all of that from the Washington campus, where the Huskies returned after the midweek loss at Eugene. He explained that splitting this trip into two parts allowed his players to return not only to class but to their own beds and familiar surroundings.

The team flew back down Saturday afternoon after practicing at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

“From a basketball perspective, the Wednesday to Sunday road trips, I don’t think teams fare very well on those: You’re just gone for so long,” he said. “… If it were going down to Los Angeles, going down and coming back, that’s a different story. But we’re just right around the corner, so I think this is going to work out better.”

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