Huskies stunned by South Dakota State, 92-73
The Huskies woke up in the second half and made a few runs, but the Jackrabbits sprinted out to a big lead that gave them enough of a cushion to hold off a late charge and hand Washington a 92-73 defeat.
Seattle Times staff reporter
It's one thing to lose in New York against No. 7 Duke and No. 11 Marquette.
But it's quite another when Washington is demolished 92-73 at Edmundson Pavilion — where it had a 32-game nonconference winning streak — by South Dakota State, a mid-major that was 0-3 with double-digit losses against opponents from major conferences.
This was worse than the embarrassing defeat at Saint Louis.
It was a humiliating and illuminating thumping that puts everything in question.
Suddenly Washington doesn't look like a Pac-12 title contender.
The Huskies had postseason aspirations, but making a school-record fourth straight trip to the NCAA tournament seems an unrealistic goal for a team that was no match against the Jackrabbits.
Coach Lorenzo Romar is more concerned with Thursday's game against Cal State Northridge, the final nonconference tuneup before the Pac-12 season, than the NCAA tournament.
"I am not going to get caught up in what we have to do and what we have to win to get somewhere," he said. "We just played a very, very poor game. Now some of that had to do with South Dakota State.
"But before we start saying or figuring out about RPIs, we better get better or those questions are irrelevant."
Washington (5-5) has lost five of the past seven games and before Sunday's matinee massacre, UW fans took solace in the belief that the early losses were against teams who would probably play in NCAA tournament.
SDSU (10-4) can earn a Big Dance ticket if it wins the Summit League Tournament, but the Jackrabbits were 13 ½-point underdogs. The Huskies had appeared as if they put their troubles behind them after Friday's nail-biting win over UC Santa Barbara and talked as if they were on the verge of a lengthy winning streak.
"Is it time to panic?" Romar said. "That question gets asked. If we're doing this again against Cal State Northridge, it's time to panic.
"But right now we'll have a few days to try and be much better than we were today."
Most of the crowd of 9,060 filed out of the building long before the final buzzer. Many were stunned into silence watching something it hadn't seen in three years — a Washington defeat at home to a team outside the Pac-12.
It was UW's first nonconference home loss since falling 72-71 on March 14, 2008, to Valparaiso in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational.
"I don't care who we play, we don't lose like we did today at home," Romar said. "It's just unacceptable."
With a handful of NBA executives on hand to scout Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten Jr. and C.J. Wilcox, Jackrabbits star Nate Wolters upstaged the Huskies and orchestrated a virtuoso performance that drew comparisons to a future Hall of Famer.
The junior guard finished with 34 points — two shy of his career best — on 10-for-20 shooting from the field and 13 of 16 at the line. He finished with seven assists, five rebounds and didn't commit a turnover in 40 minutes.
"I haven't seen a performance like that since Jason Kidd," Romar said. "The guy played the entire game without a turnover. Without a turnover. Seven assists. Thirty-four points. That's a heckuva game.
"Their guys played off of him and some of their other guys scored because of the pressure he put on our team. I thought it was an awesome performance. One of the best performances by a point guard I've ever seen."
Wroten answered with 23 points, and in the previous two games he had 27 and 23.
Darnell Gant added 15 points while Wilcox needed 15 shots for 12 points. Ross fouled out with just six points on 3-for-4 shooting in 23 minutes.
Washington scored the first basket in the opening minute, which was the last time it had the lead.
SDSU led 9-2 and 14-7 in the opening minutes.
The Huskies trailed 41-19 and were down 51-33 at halftime.
In the first half, Romar used three timeouts and rotated four reserves into the game to slow SDSU's momentum.
During a first-half break, the arena was so quiet Romar was heard pleading with the Huskies to move the ball.
Washington cut a 20-point second-half deficit (57-37) to 11 (61-50) with 12:47 remaining, but never got any closer. SDSU used a 9-2 run to regain control.
The Jackrabbits shot 54.9 percent from the field, including 10 of 16 on three-pointers. Meanwhile, the Huskies were 5 of 18 behind the arc.
"It doesn't feel real, especially losing at home," Wilcox said. "We definitely have to figure some things out. Figure out what we want to do with this season."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com. On Twitter @percyallen.
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Attendance: 9,060. Officials: Michael Greenstein, Larry Spaulding, Ken Ditty.