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Nowell Ties Career High in 82-68 Victory over Santa Clara

The dynamic sophomore goes off for 32 points in game 1 of the Vancouver Classic

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Huskies needed a boost coming off a close home win over San Diego and they got it from Jaylen Nowell who was on fire and tied a career high with 32 points in an 82-68 victory over Santa Clara.

Santa Clara got on the board first making some free throws and they shortly after made their first 3-point attempt. But Jaylen Nowell had some big time buckets for Washington with a circus shot from behind the backboard, a 3-pointer, and a putback in the first 4 minutes to give Washington a 9-6 lead.

He continued his torrid start with a few more 3-pointers and a mid range jumper to put up 16 points just after the under 12 timeout and spark Washington to a 22-15 lead. Santa Clara refused to go away though as Dominic Green’s feet were on the circle attempting to take a charge and giving the Broncos an and-1. The Husky offense again faltered with Nowell out of the game as Dickerson picked up a few turnovers, Matisse air-balled a 3 which Naz Carter corralled just to miss the dunk, and Hameir Wright didn’t get the call going to the hoop.

Even after Nowell came back in the offense continued to struggle as Washington turned it over on 3 consecutive possessions with about 6 minutes left in the half which allowed Santa Clara to cut the lead down to 32-26. But on the next possession Nowell confidently drove to the hoop and got the uncontested layup and then was fouled getting a defensive rebound on the other end and hit both free throws to push the lead to double digits. It would hover around there for the rest of the half as a Crisp 3 was off line and Naz couldn’t control the rebound leading to a 42-32 halftime score.

Nowell’s hot streak didn’t end after UW went back to the locker room as he drained a pair of jumpers for 5 points in the first minute of the 2nd half leading to a 15 point lead and an early Herb Sendek timeout. Crisp had a nice cut to the basket for a layup on a feed from a double teamed Noah Dickerson but then had a terrible transition turnover after a Matisse block to cancel it out. Santa Clara once again chipped their way back into things as the UW offense sputtered predictably without Jaylen Nowell and Noah Dickerson involved.

When both re-entered the game at the under 12 timeout they made a point to get it inside to Dickerson who made a layup and then 1 of 2 from the line after getting fouled leading to a 62-46 advantage. But Santa Clara continued to keep it within reach by getting into the bonus early and continually attacking inside when the 3-point shot wasn’t falling. The lead hung around 12 until a Nowell turnover led to a transition and-1 which caused Hameir Wright to foul out. However, Santa Clara missed the free throw and the lead stayed in double digits at 66-56.

After Naz Carter missed a pair of free throws it looked like Santa Clara would make a real game of it but the defense stiffened up and Dominic Green nailed a pair of 3-pointers and Naz Carter got a dunk to push the lead to 74-58. With 2 minutes to go Santa Clara switched to a press to try to speed UW up and it led to three careless Washington turnovers in the last minute or so and a technical foul against Jaylen Nowell which ended his night. Those plays turned a likely 20 point victory into a Santa Clara cover at 82-68.

The Huskies will take on Texas A&M at 8:30p on Tuesday night again in Vancouver and will need to play better than they did tonight. That game will be on ESPN2.

Postgame Observations

  • It was obvious to everyone with eyes that Hameir Wright deserved to start over Sam Timmins based on the play of each so far this year. It was finally obvious to Hop as well as Timmins rode the pine at the start of each half and was largely ineffective in the few minutes when he did get into the game. Wright fouled out and didn’t make a shot from the field but was active on defense and hit all 4 of his free throws which is huge for a player that shot just 41% from the line last year.
  • After none of the freshmen got in the game against San Diego, both Jamal Bey and Bryan Penn-Johnson made appearances in the first half. Bey was inserted for a few minutes with around 12 minutes to go and the Huskies ran a full court press with him and Dominic Green when he first came in. He missed a layup but had a nice block on defense. BPJ came in with a minute left in the half and couldn’t corral a layup which led to a Santa Clara putback. I’d be surprised if either see much play the rest of the week against Texas A&M and Minnesota.
  • I understand the game was on ESPN3 only but the quality of the broadcast was terrible. Throughout the entire 1st half they had UW’s record listed as 1-1 rather than 2-1. They gave UW a #3 as if we were ranked 3rd for the first 8 minutes. The score often changed 5+ seconds after a basket so it was tough to tell what the count actually was. And the broadcast team repeatedly said that Nowell had set a career high (rather than season high) in the first half when he was around 18 points. Let’s hope it’s better once the game is on ESPN2 on Tuesday night.
  • Matisse Thybulle’s shooting slump to start the season continued in a big way on Sunday night. He finished with 2 points and is now sitting at an abysmal 2 of 18 from deep. His shooting started slowly last year as well and he recovered to hit 36.5% from beyond the arc but Washington will need him to have a similar jumpstart immediately as the competition ramps back up with Texas A&M and Minnesota. But his defense was once again superb and he finished with 5 blocks on that end.
  • Noah Dickerson also had a night below his high expectations finishing with 11 points and 4 rebounds on 2 of 5 shooting. He also had 5 turnovers as Santa Clara double teamed whenever possible and it often led to bad decisions. He had the one great play hitting a cutting Crisp for a layup but otherwise couldn’t solve the double. That needs to happen soon because every team with brains will give it a go until he proves he can beat it. It’d help if he doesn’t take 4 seconds to figure out the plan of attack after getting an entry pass which gives the help time to get to him.
  • With Thybulle and Dickerson struggling Nowell’s amazing performance was needed. He did absolutely everything on the offensive end except end up with a highlight reel dunk. Nowell scored on 3’s, midrange jumpers, blow bys for layups, and put backs. However, he did take a hard fall late in the game and appeared to bother his left wrist which will merit further monitoring.
  • Dominic Green also stepped up for his first great performance of the season with 13 points on just 5 shot attempts. He hit 3-pointers but was also aggressive driving to the rim if the defender was closing out hard which got him a couple of trips to the free throw line as well. Washington will need 3 of the Thybulle, Dickerson, Nowell, Green quartet to play well on offense next game to survive rather than just 2.


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