Washington men stay unbeaten with victory over Tulane
Huskies pull away from Tulane for a 66-57 victory and open 11-0, matching the best start under coach Lorenzo Romar.
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW by the numbers
11-0 Best start by the Huskies since Lorenzo Romar took over in 2002.
18 School record for wins at the start of the season, set in 1928.
During his previous 12 years with the Washington men’s basketball team, Lorenzo Romar had just one team begin the season with 11 straight wins and that squad came within a whisker of advancing to the 2006 NCAA tournament Elite Eight.
On Monday, the 13th-ranked Huskies improved to 11-0 after a 66-57 victory over Tulane in which Romar described his team as “mentally fatigued” from a long two weeks that included fall-quarter finals and an arduous schedule that included four games in nine days.
“We just weren’t ourselves,” Romar said. “We turned the ball over far too many times. ... But we were able to still survive.”
Afterward he was hesitant to compare these Huskies with the 2005-06 team primarily because 6-11 sophomore center Robert Upshaw is unlike any other UW player he’s ever coached.
“This team is unique,” Romar said. “It has its own identity. I don’t know if we can compare it with any other team.”
On a night when the Huskies committed a season-high 18 turnovers and converted just 3 of 10 three-pointers in a poor offensive display, they again relied on their revamped defense to keep Tulane to 31.7 percent shooting.
It was a quick turnaround for Washington, which defeated then-No. 15 Oklahoma 69-67 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
The Huskies had less than 48 hours to prepare for Monday’s game and they staggered through the first half against a Tulane team picked to finish last among 11 teams in the American Athletic Conference coaches’ poll.
The Green Wave (9-2) rode a nine-game winning streak into Alaska Airlines Arena, but also lost 28 in a row against ranked opponents in the past 15 years.
Washington did a nice job of keeping the Green Wave out of the paint, but seven three-pointers kept Tulane in the contest.
Louis Dabney’s three-pointer with 8:53 left gave Tulane a 46-43 lead and it looked as if the Huskies might suffer their first setback of the season.
That’s when Washington used a 14-3 run to pull away to a 57-49 advantage.
The Green Wave countered with a pair of free throws on the next possession to cut its deficit to six points, but never got closer.
Williams-Goss, who had 14 points and nine assists, scored four of Washington’s final 11 points and Shawn Kemp Jr. capped the scoring for the Huskies with an alley-oop slam off of a Williams-Goss pass.
Kemp finished with a game-high 16 points, including six dunks.
“It was sloppy,” Williams-Goss said. “We know that we didn’t play with the mental focus that we needed to. Some of our intensity wavered up and down throughout the game. We had stretches where we weren’t ourselves on defense.
“There’s going to be games like this every now and then. You want to try to limit them. The most important thing is we came out on top and we found a way to get it done.”
Many of the Huskies’ turnovers were committed trying to deliver the ball in the post to Kemp and Upshaw, who had a size advantage.
“We were just doing what we worked on in practice,” Kemp said. “I knew that if I cut to the basket they (UW guards) were going to find me. They always do.”
Upshaw finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.
The Huskies will take a few days off and return to practice Friday for Sunday’s nonconference finale at Alaska Airlines Arena against Stony Brook. UW opens Pac-12 play at California on Jan. 2.
“Mentally we tried,” Romar said. “We weren’t loafing. We didn’t overlook anybody. I don’t think it was like that at all. ... What happened tonight was so uncharacteristic. I just think we need a rest. The break is coming at a very timely time.”
It remains to be seen whether Washington will make a deep run in the Big Dance much like the 2005-06 squad, but these Huskies have developed an undeniable will to win much like their predecessors.
“Despite everything else, I’m proud of the way we found a way to win,” Romar said. “I don’t want to overlook that fact.”