The University of Washington Huskies (9-10,2-5) got half of the message in their 94 to 72 loss to the Utah Utes (14-5,5-2) Saturday evening at the Alaska Airline Arena.
The Huskies offense matched the firepower of the Utah offense with freshman sensation Markelle Fultz scoring a team-high 30 points. Fultz ‘s multiple offensive talents were on full display Saturday as he hit from outside the three-point arch, as well as making intricate slashing moves that split defenders on his way to the basket for some crowd pleasing layups.
The Huskies downfall on Saturday was their inability to play team defense when needed.
The lack of concentration on the defense end of the court meant the Huskies were always chasing the Utes but never able to catch them and apply any type of defensive pressure.
The Utes set the offensive tone early in the first half when they reeled off twelve straights points to break a 10-10 deadlock that saw the visitors take a 22-10 lead. A Fultz basket at the 11:42 mark stopped the Utes scoring run and gave the 8,895 Washington faithful in attendance some hope.
The Huskies inability to focus on defense saw Utah’s lead balloon to 17 at 50 to 33 with 2:26 left in the first half. After trading baskets, a Fultz buzzer-beater to end the half gave the Huskies another dose of hope as the two teams went to their perspective locker-rooms with Washington down just 13 points at 53 to 40. The 53 first points matched a season high for the Utes. While it’s all good and well to wish and hope for the best, no good intentions can deliver a win unless a team plays defense.
Whatever defensive adjustments the Husky coaching staff talked about during the break failed to stick with the team. The Utes started the second half with a 5-0 run that increased the visitors lead to 40-58. The Huskies made a run at the Utes with a 9-0 run that cut the lead to just nine points at 49-58 with 15:27 left in the game, but the inability to stop Utah resulted in Washington losing it’s third straight game in it’s third straight to the Utes in two years. Utah has won six of the previous seven games dating back to the 2013-2014 season.