Markelle Fultz put on a show tonight with a career high 37 points to help lead the Huskies to an overtime win over the Colorado Buffaloes. Despite being down by as many as 17 points early in the second half, a strong defensive effort from the Dawgs down the stretch, mixed in with some clutch shooting and a huge game from Fultz, forced overtime. It came down to the final seconds, but the Huskies pulled off the huge come from behind win over the Buffs, 85 to 83.
Washington, now back to .500 at 9-9, struggled to score points in the first half but rallied for 61 second half and OT points, including 25 from Fultz. After starting out 10-3, Colorado has gone winless since the start of league play and now sits at 10-9 on the season. With a non-conference win over Xavier and a veteran heavy starting five, many thought this was a Colorado team that could make a push for an at large bid into the tournament. Now, after their sixth straight loss, that seems like a long shot.
The Huskies really struggled offensively in the first half, going 1-12 from beyond the arc. Fultz did what he could early to keep them in the game and ended the half with 12 points, which matched the total for the rest of the team. The Buffs took a 15-point lead into halftime, and extended it early into the second half. After failing to hit a 3 in the first half (and he would hit none in the game), Fultz changed his approach and aggressively and repeatedly attacked the rim. 11 of his 25 second half points came from the line, where he went 11-15 and made some clutch free-throws down the stretch.
To climb back into the game, Romar went small for a lengthy stretch in the second half with Fultz, David Crisp, Carlos Johnson, Dominic Green and Mattise Thybulle. The combo seemed to work, and the Huskies methodically closed the gap with aggressive play on both ends of the floor. After hitting on only one 3 pointer in the first half (1-7) the Dawgs hit 7 of 13 in the second, including four from Crisp (stay tuned for details). Thybulle played consistent quality D throughout the game, but Carlos Johnson brought a physical presence to the defensive effort in the second half that seemed to light a fire under the rest of the team. Lost amongst his 37-point effort, Fultz managed to secure 3 steals and 3 blocks, along with 5 boards and 8 assists. He was the star of the show.
After a 15-5 UW run and a stretch of 5+ minutes without a Colorado field goal, the Huskies found themselves within striking distance with under 5 minutes to go in regulation. The only time the UW had lead in the game was a 6-5 score early in the first, but with 1:47 to go Fultz stripped Derrick White of Colorado and ran the floor for a layup, tying the game at 64-64. After exchanging a series of free throws, Colorado Sr Xavier Johnson made a layup with 10 seconds left which sent the game into overtime tied 67-67.
At this point in the game, everyone in Hec Ed knew that the Huskies were going to feed Fultz in OT. He had kept the Dawgs in the game the whole night and just needed someone to step up in a big moment to be the difference maker. David Crisp would answer the call.
Overtime proved to be as hectic as the final few minutes of the game, with both teams securing a string of and1’s down the stretch to keep it neck and neck with multiple lead changes. With 45 seconds left in the game, Fultz grabbed a board off a missed Carlos Johnson 3 and got fouled driving to the rim. He hit both free throws to give the Huskies an 80-79 lead. Colorado’s Johnson answered with a quick dunk, giving the Buffs an 81-80 lead. UW got the ball back with about 30 seconds to go, and David Crisp found his moment from deep, hitting his fourth 3 pointer of the game to give the Huskies an 83-81 lead. A defensive stop on the following possession lead to a quick foul on Crisp, who made both free throws to secure the win for the Dawgs.
It was a hell of a win folks. Great game from a fan standpoint and wonderful to see this team dig deep and fight their way back for their second in-conference win.
Up Next: The Huskies will host Utah (who just hammered the Cougs 88-47) on Saturday at 5 PM. The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Network.