The Huskies got off to a fast start against the Bruins on Friday, and I mean fast in the literal sense. The coaching staff clearly emphasized both starting fast and ratcheting up the defensive intensity, the team showed a fullcourt press early and often, and also looked to push the pace in transition as well. Andrew Andrews was particularly aggressive in transition, exploding to the hoop for two transition layups. However, this pace also led to some ugly play, as the Huskies turned the ball over three times in the first six minutes, and also fired up quite a few early jump shots.
Reserve guard Dominic Green provided the Huskies a nice spark off the bench early in the game when he knocked down an open right corner three, which knotted the game 9-9 with 14 minutes to play. Both teams really struggled to get into a rhythm early on, both shooting under 30% through the first ten minutes of the game. The Huskies' offensive struggles were particularly frustrating, as Andrews, Noah Dickerson, and Dejounte Murray all missed early wide-open layups.
The Huskies' offensive woes continued as Dickerson missed a contested layup. The Huskies were able to gather in the offensive rebound, but Murray missed a wide-open three a few seconds later. This sequence of misses dropped the Huskies to just 3-19 from the field to start the game. Malik Dime knocked one of his two free throw attempts at the 10:52 mark, snapping a four-minute scoring drought for the Huskies in the process. Unfortunately, the Huskies also struggled from the line to start the game, knocking down just two of their five free throw attempts. They would go on to make just 10 of their 18 first-half free throw attempts.
Not surprisingly, the Bruins played quite a bit of zone on the defensive end, and the Huskies didn't exactly handle it well. UCLA deployed a 3-2 zone for two possessions, and the Huskies quickly coughed the ball up on each possession. The Bruins must have liked what they saw, as they stayed in either a 2-3 or 3-2 zone for the remainder of the half.
Fortunately for the Huskies, the Bruins also struggled mightily to knock down shots on the offensive end, as they knocked down just 32% of their first half attempts. However, the Bruins were able to control the offensive glass as they pulled down nine first-half offensive rebounds. One possession was particularly frustrating. With eight minutes to go in the first half, Bruins forward Thomas Welsh missed his second free throw, but guard Isaac Hamilton was able to pull down the offensive rebound and convert an easy layup.
The Bruins' zone really befuddled the Huskies' offense. They were unable to effectively take care of the ball, let alone generate good looks. Chriss helped the Huskies end their two-minute field goal drought when he made a midair pass to Dime, who converted the layup at the twelve-minute mark.. It was an incredibly skilled play.
The Huskies were able to use the charity stripe to get back into the game, as Andrews, Crisp, and Dime all knocked down free throws on consecutive possessions to cut the lead to 25-19 with five minutes left in the first half. Unfortunately for the Huskies, Andrews picked up his third first-half foul about a minute later and was forced to sit for the remainder of the half. Romar gambled by keeping Andrews on the floor after he picked up his second foul, and it didn't pay off.
Crisp threw an errant pass that was easily intercepted by UCLA's Noah Allen as the Bruins' zone defense forced the Huskies to turn the ball over yet again. Shortly after, Murray committed an ugly travelling turnover of his own, which was the Huskies' eleventh turnover of the first half--though to his credit, he knocked down a three on the following possession, which cut the Bruins' lead to just five, 31-26 with just one minute left in the first half. A nice last-second driving layup by David Crisp cut the lead to 31-28 at halftime. The Huskies were very fortunate to trail by just three at halftime, considering that they couldn't hit the broad side of Hec Ed in the first half.
The Huskies' offensive woes against the Bruins 2-3 zone continued as Andrews missed a tough stepback to start the second half. However, Steve Alford made the interesting decision to switch to man-to-man defense, which allowed Murray to convert a nice floater on the following possession, and also allowed the Huskies to find Dickerson in the post for an easy touch. This easy catch caused Thomas Welsh to pick up his fourth foul of the game.
Tony Parker converted his first field goal of the game after a tough 0-5 first half, when he drove by Chriss for a nice dunk which pushed the Bruin lead to five at 36-31.
The Huskies seemed to gain some momentum early in the second half after Thybulle converted a three-point shot in the left corner. Dickerson took a charge on the ensuing possession--the Huskies' fourth of the game--and Thybulle converted a nice offensive putback to tie the game at 36 with 16 minutes left in the first half. Thybulle was fouled in the process, and converted the free throw, giving the Huskies their first lead since the beginning of the game. After Marquese Chriss knocked down a pair of free throws to push the Husky lead to 39-36, Chriss converted a transition layup, giving the Huskies a 41-36 lead with a little over 14 minutes to play. This layup was created by the Huskies' pressure defense, which forced Prince Ali to turn the ball over.
Olesinski was finally able to end the Huskies' 11-0 run when he knocked down a free throw with just less than fourteen minutes left. The Huskies were able to respond, however, as David Crisp knocked down an open three. The Bruins were able to get back into the game after a sloppy stretch by the Huskies. Andrews took a tough shot which missed, and the Bruins were able to take advantage as they found Isaac Hamilton for a wide-open dunk, cutting the lead to just three, 44-41.
There were a lot of foul calls in the second half. I would try to go back and figure out exactly how many fouls were called in the first seven minutes of the second half, but take my word for it, it was a lot. Andrews was able to take advantage of the quick whistles from the refs, as he converted both of his attempts at the line, pushing the Huskies lead to 46-41 with twelve minutes left to play.
The Bruins switched back to their 3-2 zone with about eleven minutes left in the game, and it caused the Huskies problems, as they were forced to settle for two threes on consecutive possessions (though to be fair, Murray's three-point attempt was an open look that came at the end of the shot clock). However, Chriss was able to corral the offensive rebound off of Crisp's missed three. He found Andrews, who connected on his three-point try and extended the Huskies' lead to 49-43.
Dime provided the Huskies with a big spark on the offensive end in the middle of the second half. First, he sealed off the back end of the Bruins 3-2 zone and converted a layup after a nice pass from Murray. The former Rainier Beach star connected again with his big man shortly later when he threw him a nice alley oop, which Dime finished with an emphatic dunk. Dime wasn't done yet, however, as he converted an offensive putback on the next possession. When the dust settled, Dime had scored six points in less than two minutes, and pushed the Huskies lead to 57-52 with 7:05 left to play.
The Huskies put together another nice offensive sequence, as they started to figure out how to score against the Bruins' zone defense. First, Dime sealed off Welsh, which freed up Andrews for a wide-open three. On the next possession, Dickerson used a post up of his own, which allowed Murray to drive to the rim and finish a nice layup.
However, the Bruins responded well, converting three of their four offensive attempts in a 90-second span and cutting the lead to just two at 62-60 after Alford converted his first field goal of the game, knocking down a nice right-handed layup at the 4:37 mark.
After forcing the Huskies into a shot clock violation, the Bruins were able to tie the game at 62 when Isaac Hamilton threw a nice wraparound pass to Welsh, who finished with a two-handed dunk.
Dime's night was ended early after a controversial foul call, he was trying to force a tie-up on Welsh and was called for his fifth foul of the night. Dime seemed to have a case; on the replay, it sure looked like he had a clean tie-up. On the bright side, Welsh only made one of the two free throws, but it was still enough to give the Bruins a one-point lead, at 65-64 with 1:30 left.
The Huskies responded in dramatic fashion on the next possession when Crisp found Thybulle for an electric alley oop dunk, as it was the Huskies who took a one-point lead, 66-65 with fifty seconds left.
After a timeout, it seemed that Hamilton was going to have an easy layup at the rim, but Dickerson blocked the shot at the last second and then forced a tie-up, which gave the Huskies the ball back. Andrews then knocked down a three, giving the Huskies a 69-65 lead with thirty seconds left. Alford quickly came down and answered with a three of his own, cutting the lead to 69-68 with 22 seconds left.
Andrews was fouled on the ensuing inbound and converted both free throws, which gave the Huskies a 71-68 lead.
Alford had yet another three, as he hit an incredibly
lucky tough three, which tied the game at 71. Murray missed a desperation three as the Bruins forced overtime.
Welsh converted a strong putback to start overtime, and after Crisp missed a quick three on the next possession, Tony Parker converted one of two free throws to give the Bruins a three-point edge at 74-71.
Crisp was able to knock down a left wing three--in nearly the exact same spot where he had missed on the previous possession--and knotted the game at 74.
Dickerson fouled out on a tough call with 2.35 seconds left, and forced reserve big man Devenir Duruisseau into action. The freshman big man made an immediate impact, as he was able to keep the ball alive by tipping it out to Andrews after a missed three-point attempt from Crisp, who was able to draw a foul and convert both free throws.
Thybulle was able to knock down a right-corner three and give the Huskies their first lead of overtime at 81-80. Alford seemed like he was going to give the Bruins the lead as he got a step on Andrews, but was unable to convert the floater. Andrews corralled the rebound and was fouled. He knocked down both free throws and gave the Huskies a three-point lead.
Once again, Alford answered with a three. This one was wide open, as Murray and Crisp suffered from a miscommunication. Andrews barely missed a pull-up jumper as this game headed to a second overtime.
The Huskies' team defense forced a turnover to start the second overtime, which Murray finished in transition to give the Huskies a two-point lead. After a back-and-forth sequence that saw neither team score, Alford stopped the drought when he knocked down two free throws, tying up the game at 82 with three minutes to play.
Crisp came up with a huge offensive rebound above the rim and was able to find Andrews, who knocked down a left-wing three, giving the Huskies an 85-82 lead. The Huskies then forced a turnover and Andrews was able to cap off a transition dunk, pushing the lead to 90-85.
After a pair of Alford free throws cut the lead to 90-87, the Bruins cut the lead to 90-89 when Welsh put back an offensive rebound. Crisp responded by knocking down an incredible three on the right wing, pushing their lead to 93-89.
Parker converted an easy layup and the Bruins quickly fouled Murray, who left the door open for the Bruins after he missed both free throw attempts. Down 93-91, Prince Ali attempted a layup at the rim, which did not fall. Thybulle pulled the rebound down and finished one of his two free throws.
The Huskies then fouled Alford on the ensuing possession, rather than letting him attempt another three. Alford made the first free throw and tried to miss the second free throw, but he made it. The Huskies' lead was at 94-93, and after Andrews made both free throws (though he tried to miss the second), the Huskies took down the Bruins, 96-93.
I don't know if New Year's presents are a thing, but Husky fans got one today from their Dawgs.
- First of all, hats off to this young Husky team and their coaching staff. Just four days after an uninspired loss to the UCSB Gauchos, the Huskies came out with something to prove. They played with incredible energy throughout a marathon game. What was most impressive to me was the Huskies' effort on the defensive end. They held the Bruins to just 37% shooting on the game, completely neutralized Bruin big man Tony Parker, and also limited Isaac Hamilton to just 15 points on 13 shots. They also contained Bryce Alford for the majority of regulation, and even though he erupted at the end of the second half and in both overtimes, Husky fans have to be happy with Thybulle's, Murray's, and Andrews's efforts on him throughout the game. Most of all, the Huskies' defensive rotations were on a string throughout the entire game. This was the Huskies' best team defensive performance of the season. Oh yeah, did I mention that they forced the Bruins to turn it over 25 times tonight? Like I said, it was a great defensive performance.
- Andrew Andrews did it all for the Huskies tonight on offense. He finished with 35 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists. While he only shot an average 7-19 from the floor, he more than made up for it by knocking down four of his eight three-point attempts and 17 of his 19 free throw attempts. He did turn the ball over four times, and forced the issue a bit on the offensive end at times, but his ability to draw fouls manufactured points for the Huskies all game, and he also hit a few timely three-point shots. I've said it before and i'll say it again: Andrews may not be a perfect player, but Husky fans are damn lucky that he did not decide to transfer this summer.
- Malik Dime and Noah Dickerson both deserve a shoutout here. Dime turned in another incredibly efficient game. He finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. He helped spark the Huskies in the second half on the offensive end, and did a great job of disrupting Tony Parker as well. Dime is quickly emerging as one of the Huskies' most important players, and it is certainly a welcome development. DIckerson, for his part, had a great game despite missing all six of his shot attempts. He pulled down ten rebounds, but more importantly, did a great job protecting the rim for the Huskies. He only blocked one shot, but was disrupting the Bruins at the rim all night. The kid also has a incredible knack for drawing charges, as he took two tonight.
- Matisse Thybulle also deserves a shoutout. It seemed like every positive play he made tonight came at a timely moment. He knocked down a few big threes, and also corralled a crucial defensive rebound for the Huskies at the end of double overtime. He finished the game with 13 points and eight rebounds.