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Huskies Drop 3rd Straight in 2nd Half Collapse vs. Utah

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Washington’s NCAA chances are fading rapidly

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Following the win vs. Arizona the Huskies were riding high and seemingly well on their way to a streak breaking NCAA bid. 3 games later...not so much. Washington blew a 2nd straight 2nd half double digit lead in a disappointing 70-58 loss at home to Utah. UW falls to 17-9 and just 7-6 in conference.

Things started off well for the Huskies. Matisse Thybulle and David Crisp both hit early threes and Washington maintained a small lead throughout the opening minutes. Utah started off hot but gradually slowed down as Washington got in a defensive groove. The refs were a big factor in this one and in the 1st half it’s because they let everything go.

No one was in foul trouble until late in the 1st half when both Sam Timmins and Noah Dickerson picked up their 2nd each within a minute of each other. Hameir Wright was forced to play center for the final 4 minutes of the half with Washington down by two at 22-24. Despite his recent struggles he played admirably on both ends and the Huskies ended the half on a 10-0 run to take a 32-24 lead into the locker room.

Utah shot just 27% in the 1st half including only 3 of 16 from deep. If not for their ability to get offensive rebounds they would’ve been blown out of the water.

Washington would make their first shot to stretch the lead to 10 points but everything fell apart from there. Utah caught fire from both inside and out at the same time that the Husky offense self destructed. Washington was completely unable to get the ball inside to Noah Dickerson and no one else stepped up to fill the void. Utah raced out to a 27-8 start to the 2nd half (after scoring just 24 in the 1st half) and quickly amounted a 51-40 lead.

As much as you want to focus on the players, the refs absolutely made this game about them in the 2nd half. Call after call went against the Huskies over a 10 minute period that thwarted every chance for them to get back in the game. Dickerson got manhandled in the paint and yet got called for 3 offensive fouls with two coming off the ball trying to get position and another on a terrible flop by David Collette that turned an and-1 into a turnover. Utah also was given a timeout on an over and back that got called from the bench, which is illegal on a live ball play as well as were given 2 free throw attempts on a rebounding foul well before they were in the bonus. I could go on but it’s all blurred together.

The refs gave the Huskies 3 make up calls with about 3 minutes left but it was too little too late as UW was down by 15+. David Crisp (16 pts) was the only Husky in double figures as Noah Dickerson had his worst game of the season with just 3 points. Jaylen Nowell continues to look like he’s hitting the freshman wall with his 5th straight game shooting less than 50% from the field as he went just 3-12 including missing several shots that were all but guaranteed earlier in the year. The offensive outburst from Crisp was nice but 5 of his 16 came in the last minute.

The Huskies return to Hec-Ed on Saturday to play Colorado at 5p during the Isaiah Thomas jersey retirement ceremony.

Key Observations

  • Coach Hop went with just a 7-man lineup in the loss at OSU on Saturday night but he brought both Hameir Wright and Michael Carter III off the bench early and played 9 guys tonight including a lineup with Jaylen Nowell and 4 subs. That lineup could’ve also been interpreted as 4 freshmen and Dominic Green.
  • Hameir Wright played 18 minutes which is the most run he’s gotten in several weeks. That corresponded with Sam Timmins’s continually diminishing role as Hop is more comfortable playing Dominic Green in his place. Wright had a nice game with 2 blocks a short jumper and an and-one that looked like it might bring the Huskies back into it although he missed the free throw.
  • The Washington defense collapsed in the 2nd half for the second straight game. After allowing the Beavers to shoot 68% in the second half on Saturday, the Utes shot a blistering 70% in the 2nd half tonight. That’s just flat out not good enough and reminiscent of last season’s team. They’re gonna have to bring it for more than 20 minutes a night.
  • Dominic Green didn’t make any of his three 3-point attempts but he played his butt off tonight. He had a couple of nice moves with a pump fake and driving the ball on offense. On defense he was flying all over the court and tried to will the Huskies back into it. Down by double digits with 2 minutes left he yelled at the rest of his team to put on a press as he guarded the inbounder and the rest of the team looked like they had already given up but did it only because Green looked like he’d kill them if they didn’t. That’s the kind of veteran leadership he never would’ve shown until a few weeks ago. Good for him.
  • ‘Nahz Carter had a jaw dropping put back dunk late in the game that got the crowd back into the game and brought the Huskies within 6 with 7 minutes left. Unfortunately, the Huskies couldn’t sustain it and it went to waste. And yes, it technically should’ve been offensive goal tending since his hand was touching the rim but it was too sweet to not allow. The TV angle didn’t do this thing justice as I had a straight on view of the dunk sitting behind the other basket. There is no way a human being should’ve been able to do this.
  • This loss means the Huskies basically have to win out to have a realistic shot at the NCAA tournament. If things were flipped and they had started out conference play slowly and gotten back into it and ended the year in the NIT then everyone would be feeling good about the progress. But if they only get to the NIT at this point given how things looked two weeks ago it’ll be hard to feel anything other than disappointed.

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