It's the second loss for Washington since December 19th, when they took one on the chin against Oakland, 97-83 - not exactly the way the Huskies wanted to be playing heading into Pac-12 play. They open up their 2015-16 conference slate this Friday at Alaska Airlines Arena against UCLA.
"We were so excited for that game we might have gotten a little over excited thinking about UCLA," Washington guard David Crisp said after the loss. "We have to remember to take it one game at a time.”
“There’s no better teacher than experience," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar added afterward, characterizing Monday night's loss as a 'wake up call'. "What we’ve been able to experience the last few weeks here are teams that our guys didn’t necessarily follow when they were in high school but who are good teams in their own right. That’s Oakland and (UC) Santa Barbara. I think our guys learned some valuable lessons in that this level you fear no one but you respect every one. Santa Barbara just came in here and took the game from us, which is what we told our team that they were capable of doing. They did an outstanding job of sticking to what they wanted to do and I thought that when our shots didn’t fall that we kind of relaxed on the defensive end and weren’t able to totally recover. When we play with energy and we’re locked in we’re much better. Overall we weren’t able to get over the hump because I don’t think we were disciplined as we needed to be on the defensive end.
"I think right now we’re at a point where we’ve had a wakeup call. That’s where I think we’re at. That this isn’t as easy as I thought. We need to dial in even a little more. I think that’s kind of where we’re at right now. It’s not a video game; we can’t start it over. It is a loss leading into conference. But I think our guys learned a valuable lesson, not just about what opponent we played, but how important it is in the first five minutes of a game, every possession, the three minutes before halftime, how important that is. Every possession is monumental. I think our guys understand that a lot more right now.”
It was Seattle native Mitch Brewe who came up clutch to bury the Huskies when his team needed him most. The former Seattle Prep star scored a put-back layin with 2:12 left in the game after UW cut the deficit to two after made free throws from Andrew Andrews, and he came up with a huge defensive rebound and two subsequent made foul shots with 18 seconds remaining to effectively salt the game away for the visitors.
Brewe finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds, while Gabe Vincent scored 14 and Dajuan Smith 10 for UC Santa-Barbara (4-7).
Washington (8-4) was led by the 17 points apiece from David Crisp and Malik Dime, while Dejounte Murray chipped in with 15 and Andrew Andrews 14.
The Gauchos held Washington to only free throws for the first 8:01 before Noah Dickerson was able to convert a layin to the relief of the announced crowd of 7376. The Huskies never got in sync from the start, whether due to low energy or poor decision-making.
"I feel like we have to get over that hump of finding that spark to play with if we don’t see the ball going through the hoop," said Crisp. "If we don’t see the ball going through sometimes we get down on ourselves and that translates over to our defense and we can’t let that happen. We have to start defensively into our offense. Get steals and get easy buckets.”
Romar saw it from the off and quickly called a time out only 84 seconds into the game and the Gauchos already up five.
“I told coach (Raphael) Chillious before the game, I said ‘ I feel like, is it the dogs that can sense an earthquake is coming and no one else can? That’s how I feel about this game,’" said Romar. "I said ‘we better play. We better be ready to play.’”
UCSB would stretch their opening lead to as much as 11, but the Huskies would battle back, eventually taking a lead with 7:01 remaining after a David Crisp steal led to an Andrews made three, the first of the night for UW. The Huskies would go 2-14 from deep the first half, and 6-27 overall.
"We couldn’t make shots early," said Romar. "Their methodical approach on offense I thought made our guys grow impatient. We began to gamble; we got...‘Come on, let’s get on with the show. Let’s go. I’m going to make it happen.’ And we got out of position. Give them credit for being able to do that. They turned the ball over 17 times. They still turned it over. For the most part they got us to jump offside, so to speak.”