LOS ANGELES – The party never happened.
There were no smiles, high fives or celebratory handshakes after Washington overcame USC for an 80-58 victory Thursday that clinched a share of the Pac-12 regular-season men’s basketball title.
To look at the Huskies, you might have thought they lost the game.
They quietly walked off the Galen Center court, dressed quickly in the locker room and filed out of the arena focused on their regular-season finale.
Bring on UCLA.
A win today would give Washington what it has been pining for – its second outright title since 1953.
“This feels good, but I’m not satisfied,” senior forward Darnell Gant said. “Saturday is really the one when we got to really get it done.
“You don’t want to share. I don’t like sharing. Most of my teammates, they all want to win it outright. It feels better and it sounds better.”
Coach Lorenzo Romar practically wore a scowl when he spoke to the media outside the Washington locker room.
“Our guys did what we needed to do,” he said. “We came out with focus and tried to advance, so to speak. I’m happy that we were able to get that done.
“This was only half of the piece of the pie.”
The Huskies put the final touches on a midseason makeover that began after they started 5-5 and fell to 8-6 in early January.
Since their 18-point defeat at Colorado on Jan. 5, Washington has won 13 of 15 games. With Thursday’s win, the Huskies improved to 21-8 overall and 14-3 in the conference.
“I thought we could win the league as long as we started winning every game and not having any mental mistakes,” Ross said. “I knew we could do great things once we matured and went through the season and figured out what works. I thought it was a matter of time.”
Following an 82-57 loss at Oregon on Feb. 9, the Huskies believed they had to win their remaining six regular-season games to have a shot at an NCAA tournament berth.
“We have one left before we start over, and then it’s the Pac-12 tournament,” Romar said.