It is poetic justice that it took the combined efforts of a trio of Lorenzo Romar recruited upperclassmen - Dominic Green, Noah Dickerson and David Crisp - to trigger a stunning and remarkable upset over Arizona on the night that Washington’s all time winningest coach returned to Montlake.
In a game that went down to the last play of the game, Dominic Green hit a three pointer as the game clock expired to propel Washington over Arizona 78-75.
Storylines abounded in this game. It all started, however, with the offensive play of UW’s star big man. Noah Dickerson had the game of his life on the offensive end to lead UW’s upset over Arizona. The 6’8” junior forward abused 7’1” Deandre Ayton and 7’0” Dusan Ristic as he finished the evening with 25 points on 10/16 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds.
As good as Dickerson was on offense, defense carried the day for the Huskies. Center Sam Timmins (7 rebounds) and forward Matisse Thybulle led one of UW’s staunchest displays of defense all season. Arizona came into the game boasting one of the best offenses UW has seen all season. But it was completely shut down by the Huskies’ league-leading defense.
In pure Dickensian fashion, this game was a tale of two halves. Washington claimed its first lead inside the first two minutes of the game and methodically built that up to a seven point halftime lead. There were no flashy runs or gimmicky plays (ok, a pair of banked in threes by Jaylen Nowell and Crisp may count as “gimmicky”). It was a familiar brand of grind that UW fans have become accustomed to as Dickerson worked the interior and PG David Crisp pressed the advantage from his perch on the perimeter.
UW pushed that advantage early in the second half and got the lead up to 13 points within the first two minutes of the second half. A Jaylen Nowell banked-in three pointer put an exclamation point on that early run.
But Arizona wasn’t quite done. An offensive onslaught led by guard Allonzo Trier and senior center Dusan Ristic helped the Wildcats tie the game with less than 7 minutes to play in the half. From there, the game moved into a tit-for-tat chess game.
But every time Arizona did something, the Huskies answered. More at-the-rim heroics by Dickerson and some uncharacteristic long-distance shooting by Jaylen Nowell helped keep Washington right there with the PAC 12’s top team until the game’s final seconds and Dom Green’s dramatic finish.
The electricity in the air for this game was palpable all through the night. The Dawg Pack was in full effect with UW alum Nate Robinson representing. The entire arena got on their feet and gave former UW coach Lorenzo Romar a rousing ovation to start the game. And they didn’t sit back down again for most of the evening.
With the win, the Huskies (17-6, 7-3) climbed within a half a game of USC for second place in the conference. In addition, the NCAA tourney resume for UW looks much more compelling following back-to-back victories over a pair of top 25 teams. Combined with their earlier wins over USC and Kansas, it would appear that UW is poised to enter the top 25 in their own right.
Washington’s next game is on Thursday at Oregon.
- First dot: this was just an awesome game to witness. Whether or not you were for or against the coaching change that preceded the season, it cannot be denied that there is a whole new energy surrounding this team
- Tonight’s victory is UW’s first over a top 10 ranked PAC 12 team since 2008 (#5 UCLA). It is also the first time UW has beaten top 25 teams back-to-back since they did so in the 2007 season.
- Arizona’s Allonzo Trier is a stud and a pleasure to watch. The Seattle native was a critical contributor to Arizona’s second half comeback. He finished the night with 20 points including a ridiculous And-1 on a three pointer at around the 10 minute mark
- UW’s strong showing on offense was triggered by Noah Dickerson’s tough play inside. The UW big man has developed a special kind of “wiggle” on the low block. He just seems to know exactly when and how to twist around bigger defenders in order to get point blank shots at the rim
- It is remarkable to me how difficult a 10 foot jumper has become for so many collegiates. With UW’s focus on defending the perimeter, the Wildcats had several face-up shot attempts from the free throw line extended including several shots at the elbow. Very few of them fell demonstrating a common theme that UW has observed from opponents all season
- Dominic Green’s emergence from “out of the rotation” to “highest-efficiency marksman” in the conference is remarkable to me. The Husky reserve has been a true x-factor in conference play and was a big factor tonight with 4 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc. His game tying 3 with just over a minute to play in the game was perhaps the most clutch basket a UW player has hit all season. That was, until he hit the game-winner, of course.
- I feel like I should knock on wood with this observation, but how fortunate has UW been with the overall health of this team? No regular contributor has missed any meaningful time all season. Washington has needed every break it can get this year. The availability of all of its top players all season has been a big one