The Cougars rallied back from 17 points down, but the Huskies held off their cross-state rivals in the game's final minutes to secure a victory.
The Washington Huskies played nearly flawless basketball for the first ten minutes of Saturday night's game against the Washington St. Cougars. Up 21-4, shots were falling for the Huskies while Ken Bone's squad simply could not put the ball in the basket.
Eventually Washington St. clawed their way back into the game, taking a 51-50 lead after a Brock Motum 3-pointer with 7:21 left in the game. Down by one point with under three minutes left, Scott Suggs scored three straight buckets for the Huskies, with Andrew Andrews icing the game, hitting four free-throws in the game's final minute for Washington.
While the Huskies failed to play a complete game of basketball, allowing the Cougs to climb back into the game, they came away with a win. And now that conference play has begun, style points do not matter. Road wins are bound to be ugly, and the Huskies know they are fortunate to start their conference season out with a win.
Post-game analysis bullet points:
- While this team can still win without C.J Wilcox's scoring, it doesn't hurt when the senior leader is hitting his shots. Most observers will notice his 18 points, but he also grabbed 7 rebounds, helping the Huskies finish with a 29-24 advantage on the boards.
- Desmond Simmons did a brilliant job containing Brock Motum. The Cougars looked terrible on offense in the first half because Motum was unable to get clean face-up and catch-and-shoot opportunities. Despite his first half struggles, Motum found creases in the UW defense in the second half and finished the game with 15 points. When Shawn Kemp Jr. replaced Simmons in the second half, Motum took advantage of Kemp's poor perimeter defensive skills and scored two straight buckets on him.
- UW's overall defense in the first ten minutes of the game might have been their best defensive effort all season. The team's pressure on the perimeter was forcing the Cougs to take shots late into the shot clock with Simmons doing a great job at preventing easy post entries to Motum.
- I was surprised by Shawn Kemp Jr.'s ability to run the floor and finish. I am growing more confident in his play as the season progresses.
- Kudos to Aziz N'Diaye who finished with 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting and also grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots. This is the ideal performance you want from your big man. He was able to stay out of foul trouble and play a solid 30 minutes for his team. A stat to remember: Washington is 4-0 this season when N'Diaye scores 14 or more points.
- As much flack as Abdul Gaddy has received from fans recently, I was impressed by his play early on in this game. When he is aggressive at penetrating the defense within the high-post offense, he has numerous options: he can finish with a floater, he can dish it to N'Diaye for an easy lay-up, or he can kick the ball out to an open three-point shooter when the defense collapses.
Up next: The Dawgs travel to Cal to face the Golden Bears for a Wednesday night matchup.