After a literal bus fire of a time in Alabama, the Coach Hopkins squad returned to Alaska Airlines Arena and defeated the San Diego Toreros, 66-63. UW improved to 2-1 on the season while USD dropped to 2-1.
The Huskies started off the game sluggish yet again. This time, they did not score a field goal in the first four minutes of the game and mustered just 2 points off of free throws. The game was rugged from the start as the Huskies struggled to find a rhythm and allowed USD to start 6-7 from the floor. San Diego was able to take advantage of the zone like Auburn did on Friday night scoring 3s from the arc. But unlike Friday, the Dawgs tightened up their defense and the shots stopped falling.
The Dawgs did get Isaiah Pineiro, San Diego’s leading scorer, in foul trouble and he had to sit out a bulk of the first half.
As has been the case for UW this season, they were offensively challenged. Fortunately, Naz Carter forced the issue. in the first half. Once inserted into the game Carter attacked the basket and led the Huskies in the first half in scoring with 9 points.
The Huskies were able to force a couple San Diego turnovers and took a lead in the game. But, the Toreros took a 1-point lead into the locker room after a San Diego three pointer off glass by Yauhen Massalski.
Coming out of the break, San Diego was able to stretch the lead to 8 on an Owen Carter three pointer. The three-point shot has been a weakness for the Huskies on both ends. They have allowed too many while not being able to score them.
San Diego stretched it to 9 points after an Alex Floresca layup. But the Dawgs were able to come back with 5 straight after a Dickerson layup and after a successful stop, a David Crisp 3 to bring the score to 45-41. San Diego called timeout after the Huskies caused another turnover.
The Dawgs tied it at 45-45 with a Jaylen Nowell basket. He followed up with a 3 to give UW the lead 48-45.
After a turnover, a Jaylen Nowell to Matisse Thybulle alley-oop stretched the lead the 8 and forced a timeout by the Torreros.
But San Diego came back and forced it back 55-52.
After a Pinerio 15-footer, the lead was cut to 1 and then took the lead on a 3 to cap a 7-0 run. UW went cold on the offense end, but Noah Dickerson tied the game after putting back a rebound to tie the game at 59.
USD went ahead 60-59 after splitting a pair of free throws. Despite being a 41 percent free throw shooter, Hameir Wright made two free throws to take a one-point lead.
The Huskies forced a stop but the Dawgs gave it right back on a Wright offensive foul. The Husky D came up big with a Jaylen Nowell weakside block of a layup. Noah Dickerson calmly put down two free throws after a USD foul.
David Crisp split a pair of free throws and after a USD bucket, the Huskies could not convert on the offensive end. The Dawgs fouled 50% free throw shooter Massalski. And he lived up to his percentage by splitting the pair.
After getting fouled, Jaylen Nowell hit two free throws to extend UW’s lead to 3 with under 25 seconds left in the game. Nowell finished the night as the Huskies leading scorer with 18.
UW spread their zone and instead of trying to play the play for 2 and foul, USD fixated on the three and missed. The Dawgs survived an upset at home.
San Diego was led by Owen Carter III’s 17 points.
Some quick observations:
USD is picked to finish 5th in the West Coast Conference but showed that they are probably playing above that expectation especially if Isaiah Pineiro can continue his scoring ways. On the other hand, we have not seen the best out of the Huskies and are playing below expectations. The offense is sporadic throughout games and the lack of true point guard play are common themes that will prevail throughout this season. On the bright side, the Dawgs have shown that their defense is their strength and tonight they showed they can clamp down when needed.
The Huskies zone forced 18 USD turnovers. Most of them occurred due to pressure from the zone.
The Dawgs also implemented a 2-2-1 half-court press to force the action.
It’s the third straight game where the Huskies have started out sluggish and the second straight home game where they trailed at the half. The Dawgs have to be a better home team and overall start out better.
Hameir Wright is starting to play more consistently which is a positive sign for the Washington bench. He had 9 points and 6 rebounds and looks to have taken playing time away from Timmins who just does not add much at this point.