Jaylen Nowell’s clutch shots down the stretch led the Huskies and the team remains undefeated at home defeating the UC Davis Aggies, 77-70 Sunday night at Alaska Airlines Arena. Nowell led the Huskies with 21 points and Noah Dickerson added a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
UC Davis was a tournament team last year and was led by last year’s Big West player of the year Chima Moneke. The goggled senior had a game high 23 points and 7 rebounds.
Poor shooting and turnovers were killers in the first half for the Huskies. The teams traded taking the lead throughout the first frame. Both teams went through 4-minute periods of not scoring.
The Huskies were mired by turnovers committing 10 in the first half. Indicative of their inability to protect the ball, Jaylen Nowell was trying to wind the first half clock down to get the final shot of the half. He made a pass to an open Dominic Green in the corner. But, for some reason, Green was not ready for the pass and let the ball bounce out of bounds. Instead of cutting the lead, UC Davis took a 37-34 edge into halftime.
The Huskies did show that their 2-3 zone is improving. They were able to get their hands on balls in passing lanes and disrupt the Aggie defense. Notably, at 25-22, Matisse Thybulle deflected a pass, and saved the ball as it was going out-of-bounds to Jaylen Nowell. Nowell raced downcourt and was able to get a layup and a foul.
With the good there is the bad, the Aggies were able to use dribble penetration to break down the zone and find open shooters on the wings or drop off the ball to a diving teammate for an easy bucket. Although they limited UC Davis to 23.8% shooting, the Huskies left open a lot of shooters for 3. Closing out on the 3 is something to work on here. If this was Virginia Tech, they would have been in trouble.
UW did a better job in the first part of the second half in protecting the ball as they committed just 2 turnovers in the first 10 minutes. The Huskies were able to get some breathing room opening up a 9 point lead at 48-39. But after being up 9, the Aggies went on a 9-0 run and actually briefly took the lead.
With some defense and UC Davis missed shots, the Dawgs took a 1-point lead into the 8-minute time out.
One of the stories of this game was that Noah Dickerson had to deal with foul trouble. But, this led to more time for Sam Timmins. The Sophomore is starting to contribute to this team. Tonight, he had 6 points and 7 boards and was a presence once again under the basket. With under 3 minutes to play, he grabbed an offensive rebound under the basket and instead of forcing it back, he passed it back out to run the clock. It’s these small, subtle aware-of-the-situation plays that will help this team win. I’d like to see him develop a modest post-game and be able to distribute from the post. Also, work on free throws. He had four free throw attempts but made two.
With Dickerson sidled with 4 fouls, the Aggies attacked the basket and went right at him cutting the lead to 2 at 67-65 with 1:29 to play. Coming out of a time out, the Huskies called on Jaylen Nowell to make a tough shot off the dribble giving UW a 4-point lead.
After UC Davis made 1 out of 2 free throws, it was the 1-4 set for Jaylen Nowell. The true Freshman made it look easy as he hit a floater which pretty much put the game away with UW up 71-66. The Huskies were able to clamp down on defense, make some free throws and ended the game with a 77-70 win.
Only a true freshman, Nowell is proving to be the go-to player on this team. Markelle Fultz was an amazing player at UW. But, Nowell seems to have much more of a ‘take-charge’ presence at the end of games. There’s certainly a lot to work on but it will be great to watch the Freshman progress this year.
The Huskies, now 4-2, remain undefeated at home and now play the Kennesaw State Owls on Tuesday at 6:00 pm at Alaska Airlines Arena.