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UW Explodes in 2nd Half of 68-51 Win at Lowly Cal

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The Huskies come away with a split in the Bay Area road trip

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

Washington came into this game knowing that they had to win out to keep any NCAA at large dreams alive. And while it wasn’t pretty at times, the Huskies got the job done with a 68-51 victory at Cal. The win puts them at 19-10 (9-7) and in 6th place in the conference pending the result of the Oregon/Arizona game later tonight.

Just like against Stanford it was clear that the Huskies’ game plan was to get the ball inside to Noah Dickerson early. And just like on Thursday it didn’t work as the first 3 possessions were a missed shot, turnover on an entry pass, and foul on the floor leading to no points. Luckily Cal got off to an equally sloppy start and led just 6-4 after 4 minutes.

The Husky shooting started to take off though as a pair of 3’s by Jaylen Nowell and Matisse Thybulle sparked an 8-0 run. However the combination of turnovers and offensive rebounds allowed Cal to stay in the game. David Crisp lost the ball dribbling between his legs on the perimeter which led to an uncontested dunk and a 17-15 lead for Cal.

Hameir Wright entered the game and gave UW good minutes hitting a pair of 3-pointers that was part of a 6/11 start from deep for the Huskies. After acquiring a 29-24 lead it looked like Washington might break the game open. However, Darius McNeill went off for 17 points in the 1st half on just 8 shots knocking everything down from the perimeter to keep Cal alive. His last 3-pointer, with a hand in his face, tied the game up and sent it into the locker room at 35-35.

The Huskies once again started slow in the 2nd half. Sam Timmins secured a defensive rebound going to the ground but threw it directly to a Cal player standing under the hoop who dunked it and then Matisse threw it away on offense leading to a Hop timeout just 1:07 into the half.

The Huskies continued to drive the ball though and the fouls mounted for Cal. Okoroh picked up his 4th foul with 16:25 left in the half and Lee also picked up his 4th a few minutes later. Noah Dickerson feasted on Cal’s backup bigs and Washington went on a 16-2 run to accumulate a double digit lead. Oh yeah, and then this happened.

Carter and Wright’s energy made a difference and it looked like Washington was poised to run away with it. But UW got sloppy again with a slew of turnovers including 3 against a Cal press on 4 possessions. Luckily, Cal struggled to convert without Lee and Okoroh on the floor and never cut the lead any lower than 8.

A Hameir Wright shot got blocked and was deflected out to Matisse Thybulle who took a 3 with 1 on the shot clock that banked in to put Washington up 60-49. Cal wasn’t able to get it any closer than that as the lead stretched out to 17 and ended that way with a final margin of 68-51.

Jaylen Nowell led Washington with 23 points including a stellar 13/14 performance from the free throw line. Noah Dickerson was the other Husky in double figures with 16 points and 9 rebounds.

The Huskies return home for the final week of the regular season with a game Thursday night against Oregon State.

Key Observations

  • This was another rough game for David Crisp (echo, echo, echo). He finished with 6 points, 2 assists, and 3 turnovers including 0-4 from deep. 2 of the turnovers came while dribbling the ball between his legs in tight coverage and having it ripped away from him. Crisp is shooting 53% from 2-point range in conference play and worse than 20% from 3-point play. Please keep driving David. Sam Timmins also had a brutal game with 0 points on 0 attempts, 3 rebounds, and 4 turnovers including several head scratchers in just 10 minutes. Hameir Wright and Dominic Green have increasingly taken his playing time. And Michael Carter III played 8 minutes in relief of Crisp in this one.
  • The New York freshman duo of Nahziah Carter and Hameir Wright have really kicked it up a notch recently. Carter’s aggressiveness dunking is tantalizing and Wright is showing the confidence he had early in the year before disappearing in conference play. He made 2 three-pointers which were his first since the opening game of Pac-12 competition against USC (had missed 11 straight) as well as some nice moves off the dribble. They’ll both be very good 4 year players.
  • Washington was 6/11 from 3 in the 1st half and then only attempted 5 in the second half with two of them in the final minutes. They’re so much more effective against teams with no depth inside because once the opposing bigs have 4 fouls Dickerson eats the backups alive.
  • 2 plays in the 1st half stuck out to me. Dominic Green had a semi-open look on the wing with a defender leaping at him but made a no-look extra pass to Thybulle in the corner who drained a 3-pointer. Nahziah Carter drove to the rim but then fired off a wrap around pass to Nowell once the defenders were in the air to nail a wide open 3. Those plays are completely normal in basketball but they’re the sign of a smart and engaged passing team and Washington just rarely looks like that.
  • Hopkins called his last timeout with the ball and 17 seconds left in order to allow Cal to let one of their senior walk-ons into the game on senior night. Good guy Hop.

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