Spiral Continues: UW Suffers Worst Loss of Season at Colorado

Dan Raley

Washington, a basketball team in a lingering funk, tried everything it could to hang with 23rd-ranked Colorado and still couldn't prevent a fairly sound 76-62 beating on Saturday night in Boulder.

Players sat down immediately for turnovers, of which there were plenty. Freshman Jaden McDaniels didn't start and barely played in the second half, which is a bad sign. Seven-foot redshirt freshman Bryan Penn-Johnson received a rare chance to show what he could do. The personnel shuffle was nonstop.

Noticeably upset, coach Mike Hopkins drew a technical foul, one of three whistled on his team. The game-long tension for the Huskies was so palpable it was felt all the way from the Rocky Mountains to Seattle. 

In the end, the UW (12-9 overall, 2-6 Pac-12) got swept on this unproductive road trip, dropped its third consecutive game and fifth in six outings, and lost by its biggest margin of the season. 

The Huskies didn't give one away late this time. They just never really got started against one of the league's better teams. If there was a positive sign, the UW made a determined effort to get the ball inside to freshman sensation Isaiah Stewart, who finished with his typical workmanlike game of 23 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. 

McDaniels' prolonged absence was a noticeable ripple that things are going to change for this underachieving team. He drew just 9 minutes of time and scored 2 points. He left the game for good early in the second half after committing mindless miscues. 

"I just want fighters," Hopkins said on his postgame radio show. "You're going to play the way we want to play. If you don't, you're not going to play. You won't."

Sinking deeper into last place in the Pac-12 with Oregon State, the Huskies led 5-2 and 5-4, and then quickly fell way behind a Colorado team (16-4, 5-2) that was as cohesive as Hopkins' group was not.

"We need energy, we need to be flying," Hopkins said of the beginning of the game. "We weren't."  

Freshman RaeQuan Battle hit 4 of 8 3-pointers in the opening half and was another bright spot. Battle and Stewart together scored 28 of the UW's 33 first-half points. Unfortunately, the Huskies gave up 51 to their hosts, fell behind by 20 and could never get closer than 10 after that.

Colorado's approach was simple, according to guard McKinley Wright. His explanation was an indictment on the Huskies' seemingly lack of talent surrounding Stewart. 

"We knew Isaiah was going to get his, but we didn't want the role players to get going," he said in a FOX Sports 1 interview. "He couldn't beat us by himself."

While this UW team tries to avert a total collapse, it still can't stop doing dumb things, which only exacerbate the situation.

McDaniels had no technicals called on him in this one, but he apparently irked his coach in some manner, hence his inactivity. 

Battle collided with Wright in the second half and was fouled, but then inexplicably tossed the ball on the Colorado player who was lying prone on the floor and received a technical foul. 

Penn-Johnson, while noticeably eager to make something happen in his second-half opportunity, blocked two shots, but he missed an uncontested dunk, hung on the rim and drew a technical. 

"When you play a top 25 team, you can't make mistakes like that," Hopkins said. 

The Huskies, with postseason possibilities turning negligible, can only hope to prevent a total meltdown. It won't be easy. They next face 22nd-ranked Arizona on Thursday night at home. 

There's not much to play for now. Pride maybe. Will McDaniels get on board or jump ship with a fragile ego? The Huskies have a lot to figure out in a short amount of time.