LOS ANGELES — For just a second, it felt like things might have changed.
With Washington men's basketball team up 28-23 and a minute to go in the half, the Huskies (12-13, 2-10 Pac-12) inbounded the ball only to have it stolen by USC senior Jonah Matthews. He passed the ball to a wide open Max Agbonkpolo, but the freshman’s two-handed slam ricocheted off the heel of the rim.
The ball fell right to the Huskies, who pushed down the court. Freshman Marcus Tsohonis then threw up a lob to freshman Jaden McDaniels, who’s one-handed slam put Washington up 30-23, and the Huskies headed into the break up 30-25, seemingly halfway to snapping its six-game losing streak.
Instead a 9-0 run by the Trojans (18-7, 7-5 Pac-12) in the opening four minutes of the second half erased the Huskies lead. Washington also had a scoring drought of seven minutes in the middle of the quarter, condemning it to a seventh consecutive loss, 62-56.
The Huskies were locked in during the first half, largely due to the performance of freshman Jaden McDaniels. Coming off the bench again, he led the team with 14 points and 7 rebounds. The freshman also had help from freshman Isaiah Stewart, who had seven points and three rebounds, while junior Hameir Wright added three points and three rebounds to the half as well.
And while McDaniels carried the offense, the Huskies buckled down on defense. After allowing 75 points or more in its last four games, Washington stepped up in the first half by holding USC to just 25 points in the first 20 minutes. The UW also grabbed two steals and picked up four blocks. Meanwhile, the Trojans shot just 27.3% from the floor and went 2-of-11 from three, though they were without star freshman Onyeka Okongwu.
But Washington ground to a halt for most of the second half. McDaniels, went quiet, adding just five points in the second half. His teammates didn’t do any better, scoring a combined 23 points on 25% shooting in the second half. With five minutes left in the half, the Huskies had only made four shots, and no one made more than two. UW was also out rebounded again, 40-35, again in the second half.
The Trojan offense on the other hand, couldn’t miss. Senior forwards Nick Rakocevic had 19 points on 50% shooting, and Matthews added 16, including a 4-of-9 performance from three.
Washington heads to Westwood to take on UCLA, the only Pac-12 team to beat the Huskies with Quade Green. The Bruins are in the middle of a strange season. After its dismal nonconference season, they’ve stolen wins against Colorado, Utah, and Arizona last weekend.
Tip off at Pauley Pavilion will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be broadcasted by ESPN2.
Reach Assistant Sports Writer Andy Yamashita at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ANYamashita
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