SEATTLE — The Washington men’s basketball team isn’t talking about the NCAA tournament any more.
Not after the 65-52 defeat Wednesday against No. 23 Oregon at Alaska Airlines Arena and its seventh defeat in the past eight games.
The Huskies billed the game as a win-or-stay-home-in-March situation.
They talked about hope, faith and finishing the season with a 7-0 run to put themselves in position to receive an at-large invitation to the Big Dance.
Now everything has changed.
“It’s about playing with pride,” sophomore center Desmond Simmons said.
“We just got to get over the hump,” added senior co-captain Abdul Gaddy.
The Huskies are a battered bunch these days. The close defeats have sapped their energy and made them testy.
“Just tired of losing,” Gaddy said. “Any competitor doesn’t get comfortable with losing. We’ve lost seven out of eight (games). Since I’ve been there, that’s never happened.
“We just don’t like losing. I don’t like losing at anything.”
For the third consecutive game, their offense sputtered while generating a season low in points.
They made just 11 field goals in the first half, 10 in the second and shot 35 percent (21 of 60) in the game.
The three-point shot, which had been a weapon most of the season for Washington, has become an albatross recently.
Against Oregon, the Huskies made just 2 of 13 attempts (15.4 percent) behind the arc.
It’s the fifth game they’ve finished with fewer than four three-pointers.
With leading scorer C.J. Wilcox mired in an eight-game shooting slump, Gaddy took control.
He finished with a career-high-tying 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
However, no other Husky scored more than nine points.
Meanwhile, Oregon had five players in double-digit scoring, including freshman guard Damyean Dotson who led with 13 points.
Considering Wilcox, who missed his first six attempts, and Scott Suggs never got going offensively in the first half, the Huskies were fortunate to trail just 33-27 at halftime.
They had just one lead for less than a minute midway in the first half and after the break they gradually faded away.
Oregon extended its lead to 12 points with 12:02 remaining, but the Huskies took advantage of the Ducks’ suspect ball-handling to force turnovers and keep the game close.
Washington cut its deficit to 51-44 with 5:22 left before Ducks junior guard Johnathan Loyd drained a long jumper, Dotson made a layup and senior forward Arsalan Kazemi drained a free throw to give Oregon another 12-point advantage at 56-44 with 3:13 left.
Oregon improved to 20-5 and inched to the top of the conference standings at 9-3.
Washington fell to 13-12 and 5-7.
“Our team is very, very disappointed in the situation,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Very disappointed in themselves. All of us. We’re all disappointed. But I don’t think our team is ready to quit at all. I think this team is still going to stay strong.
“In situations like this in a lot of cases, teams start to think about the spring. They start to think about next year. They start to think about everything except coming back and being a team. I’ve seen that happen, but this team I don’t think is going to do that.”
The Huskies have enough fight, but as Romar noted: “Right now this is a mental situation. Our minds have to be right.
“Somehow, without experiencing a whole lot of success, we have to regain our confidence. We have to regain our swagger as a team.”