TV photo: Washington reverses trend, snaps Gonzaga’s long Pac-12 winning streak

It was shaping up to be a disappointing Saturday for those University of Washington followers hoping for a win. Every victory.

They didn’t get it in New York, as star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. finished second in the Heisman Trophy beauty contest. But they won one at Alaska Airlines Arena later that night in what was perhaps a bigger upset. The Huskies rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to end seventh-ranked Gonzaga’s 16-game winning streak against Pac-12 opponents, 78-73.

For those of us left on this side of a snow-covered Snoqualmie Pass, we watched on ESPN2, with Roxy Bernstein covering the action and Davenport’s favorite unofficial spokesman, Sean Farnham, providing the analysis.

What they saw

• That Pac-12 16-game winning streak? Six of them came at the expense of the Huskies.

Which, going in, made it hard to call the match a rivalry. After all, Washington had only won once this century. But this is where Farnham and Bernstein came out on top.

“It’s one of those rivalries, Sean, that’s good for college basketball,” Bernstein said.

“Good for college basketball,” Farnham agreed. “Two teams from the same state, obviously different conferences, and lately when you’re playing the Zags and you’re in the Pac-12, it’s a lot like a Hallmark Christmas movie. You kind of know the score before it even starts.

“We’ll see tonight if the Huskies can go forward and reverse that trend.”

They did, closing out the game on an 18-7 run.

“They won that game because of their defense,” Farnham said.

• “They were in go-go mode to start this game tonight and they haven’t stopped,” Farnam said as Gonzaga (7-2) was in the midst of building an 11-point lead in the second half.

A lead that disappeared under, as Farnham described it, a Huskies defensive pressure. Part of that was the Bulldogs’ inability to counter an outside shot after halftime. They missed all nine threes they took.

Scoring goals inside was also a chore. The key there? Washington’s rising big man Frank Kepnang.

“He was such a factor for Washington,” Bernstein said midway through the second half, when Kepnang was on his way to 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

“(Kepnang) is really the energy source for the Huskies,” Farnham added.

But turnovers undermined most of that, with the Huskies (6-3) committing nine in the first half and 19 overall, leading to 15 GU points. They balanced that out, however, with 11 offensive rebounds that led to 11 second-chance points.

What we saw…

• When the game, which started just after 8 p.m., returned to its seat about 20 minutes later, Bernstein and Farnham walked through the same territory they occupied outdoors on ESPN News. This includes the statement that, as Farnham reiterated, “It’s also a rivalry game.”

However, there was one addition. That was Farnham’s summation of Nolan Hickman’s hot start, with 11 points on 4-6 shooting at that point. He finished with 17 – but only two after halftime.

A few minutes later, Koren Johnson hit a circus shot with his back to the basket with his back turned, prompting the following questions from Farnham:

“How much fun and how much fun was this game?”

“What are we looking at?”

“What is this?”

• There was one more question, unanswered but key for the hosts. What was on the line for Washington? hang on Farnham responded in the first half.

“For the Huskies who want to try to make a statement,” he said, “this is the best opportunity in their remaining (non-conference) schedule to try to capture what they can be.”

• The Huskies trailed in the first half until the Zags, seemingly inspired by a hard offensive foul on Braden Huff, took a 48-42 lead.

It upset the Zags to say the least. And it also led to the ensuing 7-0 run and a nine-point lead. The run was powered by the Bulldogs’ 2-3 zone — forced by foul trouble on Huff and Graham Icke (two) — and a near-perfect three-quarter-court pass from Anton Watson to Ben Gregg, a play that verbally at least got Farnham off his feet. .

Farnham had plenty of praise for Watson, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds.

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