2020 Huskies: The Team That Keeps On Giving
Meet the most generous team in America.
The Washington Huskies proved highly charitable once more, handing over yet another basketball game they should have won, falling 67-66 to Utah on Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
This time, a careless play by freshman forward Jaden McDaniels with 2:32 remaining helped send the UW (12-8 overall, 2-5 Pac-12) to an embarrassing defeat.
After a Husky foul was called elsewhere and play had ended, McDaniels took a roundhouse swat to block a continuing shot and drew a dead-ball technical. He not only connected with the ball but also with Mikael Jantunen's head, sending the Utah freshman from Finland crashing to the floor.
"You can't hit a guy on the head," UW coach Mike Hopkins bemoaned on his radio show.
McDaniels' actions created a six-point play, all coming on free throws emanating from the personal foul, the technical foul and retained ball possession. It didn't win the game for Utah, which pulled within 62-61, but it gave the Utes (11-7, 2-4) a second chance. It was McDaniels' fourth technical of the season.
Rylan Jones' two free throws for Utah with 14 seconds left in the game actually provided the game-winning points -- and its first lead since 10-9 -- ending the Utes' four-game losing streak.
Up 52-40 with 7-plus minutes remaining, the Huskies blew a 12-point lead or greater for the fourth time this season. It doesn't get any more polarizing than that.
"Never seen anything like it," Hopkins said.
This game was strange from the beginning. The Huskies were down 7-0 before they could make anything happen.
Hopkins, overly impatient with what he was seeing, started substituting players in a manic manner. He'd inserted three point guards before the game was barely six minutes old.
The Huskies settled in and took a 28-24 halftime lead, but they still didn't have any discernible rhythm or chemistry.
For the first time all season, they oddly didn't take advantage of their one constant, their only reliable performer, freshman Isaiah Stewart. They barely looked for the sensational first-year player. Stewart finished with 13 points on just 6-for-8 shooting.
McDaniels, who fouled out shortly after that head-hitting incident, finished with a team-high 14 points.
Junior forward Hameir Wright, who also fouled out, had one of his better outings with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
It was no consolation. He wasn't around for the end.
After the six-point swing for Utah, the Huskies pushed back out to a 66-61 lead when Stewart made a strong move to the basket to score with 1:37 left.
The Utes, however, came up with the game's final six points, all on free throws.
The Huskies responded with a Jamal Bey turnover, a fadeaway jumper by Naz Carter that wouldn't go down and Bey's offensive foul with less than a second remaining.
They didn't look for Stewart on any of those possessions. These older players made ill-advised decisions on each play. They didn't deliver, which is beginning to be repetitive.
The outcome came gift-wrapped, same as it did against Houston, Stanford and Oregon.
"We've just got to figure a way to close these things out," said Hopkins, without a ready solution.
The attached video shows him speaking about the Oregon outing. Another blown game. Nothing changed in five days.
"You've got to create your own luck," he said.
It's not happening. Not even close. The loss, in fact, slipped the Huskies into a tie with Oregon State for last place in the Pac-12.