Thursday, September 21

Bruins suffer worst loss in history to Washington Huskies

Howland attributes UCLA's 29-point defeat to Washington's pressure defense

Freshman forward Reeves Nelson (left) and senior guard Michael Roll walk off the court after a foul during the second half of the Bruins' loss to Washington.

Freshman forward Reeves Nelson (left) and senior guard Michael Roll walk off the court after a foul during the second half of the Bruins' loss to Washington. Michael Chen

SEATTLE ­­””mdash; Deep within Edmundson Pavilion, a drained Michael Roll stood with his back against a wall and addressed the assembled media.

Dressed in a dark blue athletic jacket and pants, Roll attempted to explain a historic 97-68 loss to Washington on national television on Saturday night.

Roll, who finished with just six points on 3-of-10 shooting, was asked if he saw a lack of effort on the part of the Bruins as the game got further and further out of their grasp.

After taking a sip of his Gatorade, Roll was honest and blunt with his take on what happened.

“Yeah, I saw it a lot,” Roll said. “Just frustrating.”

Freshman forward Reeves Nelson was a bit more forthcoming with his comments to the Los Angeles Daily News.

“People were watching, and they can decide for themselves if we gave up,” Nelson said. “You know how I have to answer that.”

After freshman forward Brendan Lane made a 3-pointer to bring the Bruins to within six with 9 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the first half, the Huskies went on a 27-10 run to close the half and head into halftime up 49-26.

“I mean we were down a lot, yeah, but I mean if we come out in the second half, we punch them in the mouth right away, we could have got back in there really easy. But we just kind of folded,” Roll said.

That punch never came as the Bruins turned the ball over on the first possession of the second half and never got closer than 23 points in the second half.

“Disappointed, frustrated,” Lane said on the emotions of the Bruins following the loss. “We didn’t come out and play hard enough so it’s on us. We didn’t match the intensity.”

The 29-point defeat was notable for a number of reasons.

It was UCLA’s worst loss to Washington in history, surpassing a 25-point loss in 1986.

It was the worst loss in the seven years of the Ben Howland era at UCLA, eclipsing the 27-point loss to Portland on Nov. 26 in the ’76 Classic.

Finally, the 97 points were tied for the second most points allowed under Howland.

“We really got shellacked,” Howland said.

When searching for an explanation for the Bruins’ complete no-show on national television, Howland pointed to a failure to handle Washington’s pressure defense.

A number of times throughout the game, sophomore guard Malcolm Lee had trouble handling the ball against the suffocating defense of Washington’s Venoy Overton.

In an attempt to relieve some of the pressure, the Bruins set screens in the backcourt, usually with either Nelson or senior forward Nikola Dragovic. Yet even that adjustment was of little help as the Bruins shot just 36.7 percent from the field in the first half, on the way to a 46.3 percentage for the game.

“Their pressure was so good that we were just trying to get catches, and at that point we were down so much that we’re all just trying to get it back so we were kind of forcing shots at that point,” Roll said.

As they have throughout the season, the Bruins struggled to maintain possession of the ball, committing 18 turnovers.

Summing up the kind of game it was for the Bruins was one play in the second half in which Dragovic grabbed the rebound off a missed shot and attempted to throw an outlet pass. Yet Washington’s Matt Bryan-Amaning stepped in front of the pass and dunked the ball to send those in attendance into a frenzy.

“It’s just anger at ourselves,” said Lane, who finished with a career-high 11 points. “Just really frustrated, especially for the seniors.”

For seniors Roll, Dragovic and the injured James Keefe, Saturday’s loss closed out their careers without a win in Seattle.

Following the game in the visiting coaches’ locker room, Roll was asked how the team can make up for such a brutal loss.

His answer?

“Get the hell out of Seattle, get back to Los Angeles and just prepare for the Oregon schools.”

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.