LOS ANGELES – Not only is Nate Robinson one of the nation’s shortest players – listed at 5-foot-9 – he showed on Sunday why he’s also one of the most explosive.
After an 8-point first half, Robinson scored 20 in the second half, as No. 16 Washington squelched Loyola Marymount’s fleeting fantasy of an upset and won 100-93 before 2,006 fans at the Gersten Pavilion.
At halftime, the score was tied, 46-46, but over the next 20 minutes, Robinson nailed three of his four 3-pointers, while spinning off a medley of lay-ups and jumpers. He made 9 of 15 shots, including 4 of 6 3-pointers. Robinson made 6 of 11 free throws.
“We had four different players on him,” said Loyola Marymount coach Steve Aggers. “We did a good job on Nate in the first half, and then he did what all really good players do and exploded.”
Robinson had his assistants. Guard Tre Simmons added a career high 26 points for Washington (7-1), which also got 21 points from forward Bobby Jones, who was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line.
The Huskies are off to their best start in seven seasons. They lost earlier this year at Gonzaga.
Washington stumbled early on against Loyola. In the first half, the Huskies made 11 turnovers and missed half of their free throws, going 7-of-14 from the line. The Lions then grabbed a quick 51-46 second-half lead – and an upset seemed possible.
Soon, Robinson struck, and Washington went on an 18-2 run, building a 16-point lead, 89-73, with 4:43 to play.
“The bottom line,” said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, “we have too much at stake. We haven’t been winning long enough. We can’t relax against anybody.”
Washington was 19-of-29 overall on free throws, while Loyola finished 20-of-25 from the line. The Huskies narrowly outrebounded the Lions 36-34. Dustin Brown and Brandon Worthy both had 18 points for Loyola Marymount (5-2).
Will Conroy had 13 assists for Washington.
The Huskies play five straight games at home, starting with No. 12-ranked North Carolina State next Sunday.