SEATTLE – If you miss 17 shots from the 3-point line and get outrebounded by 20 boards, winning isn’t much of an option.
Yet, there the Washington Huskies were with less than four minutes to play Saturday, down only two points to Stanford. UW has been strong down the stretch, one of the reasons they’ve won games no one believed they could win. Not this time.
The bigger and stronger Cardinal team held on to win it 73-64 and the young Huskies learned some valuable lessons at home in front of 8,256 rowdy fans at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“We have to be mentally strong,’’ said point guard David Crisp. “If you get outrebounded by 20 … there’s no excuse for it. You’ve got to put a body on someone.”
Crisp, who had 11 points but missed six of seven 3-point shots, wasn’t just blaming the guys under the basket. The 3-point line has become kryptonite for the Huskies in Pac-12 play.
The Huskies (13-5 and 3-2 in conference play) were shooting 28.4 percent from the arc in Pac-12 games before Saturday’s game. They shot 22.7 percent against Stanford, making only 5 of 22 treys.
“Put that on me for not properly executing my sets and being out of place,’’ Crisp said. “We were trying to force things.”
Freshman Jaylen Nowell scored 20 points, but was only 1-for-5 on shots beyond the arc. Guard Matisse Thybulle, who took two ill-advised quick shots down the stretch, missed all four of his 3-point shots.
The UW offense went dark for long stretches – four minutes in the first half and six minutes in the second. That means a lot of balls up for rebounds, but the Huskies couldn’t handle Stanford’s physicality inside, losing the battle of the boards 48-28. The Cardinal outscored UW 13-2 on second-chance points.
Incredibly, UW still had a chance to win before back-to-back 3-pointers by Stanford – one by Daejon Davis and one by Dorian Pickens -- sealed it after the Huskies had closed the gap to 62-60 with 3:52 to go.
Stanford (10-8 and 4-1) had made only two 3-pointers all game before that point.
“Those were the two backbreakers and that was on me,’’ said UW coach Mike Hopkins. “They were killing us with the double-post, so we wanted to clog the paint. After we pulled within two, I told our guys to pack it in a little.”
It was a big night for Davis, the former Seattle Garfield High guard. The Stanford freshman had 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Davis and Nowell were high school teammates.
“I knew he would come out and go at us,’’ Nowell said of Davis. “That’s the type of player he is.”
If there was any good news in the outcome for the Huskies it’s learning they still have a chance to win when they aren’t playing well.
“I thought our guys fought really hard,’’ Hopkins said. “We just got stagnant on offense a few times and there wasn’t a lot of flow to it. It’s a long season and we just have to keep getting better.”