The dictionary definition of free is: (adj.)exempt from external authority, interference, restriction, etc., as a person or one's will, thought, choice, action, etc.; independent; unrestricted. The Washington Huskies had 14 unrestricted, unhindered, unguarded 15 foot shots (in other words, free throws) in Sunday night's game at USC. They managed to sink only four of said free throws. That went a long way to explaining how Washington lost 71-60 to the Trojans, dropping to 5-6 in the conference in the process.
USC came out of the gate like a house on fire, raining three ball thunder on the visitors from the Emerald City. The Trojans exploited Washington's last in the conference field goal defense, and doubled down on it, hitting over 50% of their shots in the first half. It was 40-29 USC at the break.
Washington cleaned up their act in the second half. They found Aziz N'Diaye on the block and played inside out, freeing Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy for open shots. The Huskies pared the lead to six and had the Trojans in the cross hairs. Southern California missed a few shots on the offensive end and got into foul trouble defensively. That should have boded well for Washington.
It would have except for the whole "making the free throws" part. Nine times N'Diaye stepped to the stripe with a chance to bring the Huskies closer. Only twice did his fling from the charity stripe find the bottom of the net. Late in the game the Huskies fouled the Trojans, who drained 14 of 15 free throws. Ball game.
With the loss, Washington is alone in ninth place in the Pac-12. With no chance at all of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, and a Pac-12 regular season championship also out of the question, Lorenzo Romar's squad must cure what ails them in time to make a run at the conference tournament next month. They might start at the free throw line.