The Washington Huskies survived a close call with a hard-fought 70-65 victory over Washington State in Pullman on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskies opened up the game showing the same signs of offensive ineptitude that plagued them in the second half of their previous game at UCLA. Poor three point shooting, an inability to get the ball into Noah Dickerson and banged up Jaylen Nowell (ab injury suffered in the first half) all conspired to limit UW’s offensive effectiveness throughout most of the first half.
Fortunately, UW’s defense was up to the task. Matisse Thybulle, who was UW’s only semblance of consistent offense early in the game, flexed his defensive muscle in helping to contain WSU threats such as Malachi Flynn, Robert Franks and Carter Skaggs. Thybulle was all over WSU out of the 2-3 zone racking up three steals in the first half and four for the game.
The scoring pace quickened for both teams in the second half as UW found more success working the block and WSU found its outside shooting stroke. Noah Dickerson was a big contributor for UW during this stretch. Nevertheless, WSU was able to extend their lead by shooting threes while UW was scoring twos for the first 10 minutes or so of the second half. At one point, they had posted a 10 point lead on the Huskies.
The final 10 minutes of the game got a little wild. UW battled back with their customary late-game aggressive defense to get the game back to five points. But with just over eight minutes to go, Noah Dickerson fouled out thus putting UW’s prospects to come back in doubt.
But Carlos Johnson, getting some rare minutes in the rotation, gave UW a bit of a spark exemplified with a huge tomahawk dunk just after Dickerson’s disqualification. From there, UW was able to briefly reclaim the lead and within a point as the game moved into its final two minutes.
From there, the Huskies went to work doing what they do ... locking down games at the end of regulation. Sam Timmins got a big blocked shot and both David Crisp and Jaylen Nowell drained critical baskets to finalize UW’s big comeback.
The Huskies and Cougars have played spirited games over the last two seasons. Each of the last seven games, including this one, has been decided by less than eight points. The Cougs swept UW last season. With the win, Washington moves to a record of 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the PAC.
- There was a decided lack of free throw scoring for UW. The Huskies converted just 10 free throws on 14 attempts. This might be a sign of the competition levels that UW has competed against. In the out of conference slate, UW averaged 26 attempts per game. In their three PAC 12 games, UW has averaged just 14 per contest.
- Rebounding continues to be a problem for the Huskies. The Cougs owned UW on the glass for the night 40 to 25. Offensive rebounds surrendered were once again the primary driver. WSU gathered a ridiculous 17 OREBs on the game.
- On a related note, Sam Timmins was pretty much a non-factor tonight. He didn’t score in the game and managed just four rebounds to go with the one big block at the end of the game.
- The first half was a particularly ugly half to watch. There was a six minute stretch of game clock where both teams combined to score five total points. It was only slightly less painful than poking toothpicks into your eyeballs. I know this for a fact because I attempted as much while I was watching it.
- G Michael Carter III made his PAC 12 debut after having missed all but three games so far this season. The freshman PG was used primarily to spell David Crisp. Given the severe lack of depth that UW has at the position, Carter’s status has been a focus area for many fans. His four minutes were uneventful as he recorded one rebound and one personal foul.
- David Crisp had another “Crisp-like” game. He was ineffectual offensively for most of it and did little to set up other scorers for most of the night and then came on like gangbusters to help spark UW’s comeback in the final 10 minutes. He did have a flashy bucket to close out the first half that involved him juking and jiving all around 6’9” freshman Arinze Chidom and finishing at the rim. It was impressive.
- WSU forward Carter Skaggs found a new way to beat the UW zone. Early in the second half, he took a pass from about 9 feet behind the arc, sized up the UW defender who was playing about three feet off of him, and drained it from waaayyyyyy outside.
- Former UW and Gonzaga PG Dan Dickau served as the color analyst for the PAC 12 broadcast.