The Huskies have aspirations of a Pac-12 title this season. They hadn’t swept a conference road trip in 6 seasons. The latter would have to end in order for the former to be true. And end it did as the Huskies used a blistering 1st half to take care of Colorado in a game that was in doubt late into the second half by a score of 77-70. The Huskies move to 12-4 overall and 3-0 in Pac-12 play.
Washington finished the Utah game strong and they carried over that momentum into the start of this one. David Crisp in particular kept up his torrid start to conference play hitting a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game. That was the beginning of a 12-0 start for the Huskies (including another Crisp 3) spanning the first 5 minutes of the game.
Colorado eventually found a little bit of a rhythm though and a 7-0 run of their own cut the lead to 14-7 and got the crowd back into it. But the Husky offensive barrage just wouldn’t stop. Dominic Green and Naz Carter got into the action with 3-pointers of their own and the Huskies pushed the lead back out to 11 at 22-11 with 11 minutes left (...11).
Despite the hot shooting there were still some flaws. Taking all of those 3-pointers meant that Washington didn’t take their first free throw attempt until after 16+ minutes had passed in the half. Meanwhile Colorado started out 6/8 from the FT line but it could’ve been much worse for Washington as both of those misses were on the front end of 1-and-1’s. Those free throw attempts came on 3 Matisse Thybulle fouls, and 2 each by Sam Timmins and Noah Dickerson.
With 8 minutes left in the half Colorado’s best player and PG leader, McKinley Wright IV, got tangled up with Noah Dickerson and appeared to seriously injure his shoulder. He eventually came to the bench wearing a sling but didn’t return to the court which obviously cast a heavy pall over the proceedings for the Buffs.
But Jaylen Nowell hit a floater with a few seconds left in the half to give the Huskies a 48-35 lead heading into the break. Washington made 8 of their 13 3-point attempts in the half including 4 by David Crisp and 1 by Hameir Wright(!!!) to wrap up the best offensive half of basketball the Huskies have played all season.
The second half got off to a questionable start as Noah Dickerson got called for a hook which negated a thunderous dunk. Washington’s offensive flow definitely looked worse over the first 4 minutes as they were forced into several contested shots and were called for a shot clock violation. Still they did just enough to remain up by 11 at 52-41 going into the under 16 timeout.
The offense continued to stagnate though and on consecutive plays Colorado had a traditional 3-pt play followed by a 3-pt jumper to bring the lead down to 5 at 56-51 with 12:28 remaining leading to a Coach Hopkins timeout.
From there fouls became a serious issue as the big men on all sides ended up picking up their 4th foul. Jaylen Nowell drew the 4th foul out of Tyler Bey on an and-1 opportunity that put the Dawgs up 10 but missed the free throw. Colorado again answered the bell as they went on a 9-0 run over the next 2:45 and brought the margin to a single point at 63-62. That was the closest the game had been since it was 0-0 at tipoff.
Colorado’s big man Evan Battey fouled out and Hameir Wright followed shortly there after leaving both sides with limited size down low. Jaylen Nowell entered hero mode from that point on and made a series of difficult runners, floaters, and midrange jumpers to answer the Buffs every time that they threatened to get back into it.
The Huskies still only led by 3 at 70-67 with 4 minutes left when Matisse Thybulle was fouled shooting a corner 3-pointer and proceeded to make all 3 free throws. That finally gave Washington the little bit of cushion they were looking for. Colorado called a timeout down 8 with 2:45 remaining and ended up shooting a contested 30 foot jumper that landed out of bounds for a shot clock violation. The Huskies finished without another field goal and were just 2 of 6 down the stretch from the free throw line but Sam Timmins played nice defense on a couple of late possessions and it didn’t come back to haunt them.
Nowell led Washington in scoring with 19 points while David Crisp was the only other Dawg in double figures with 16. The Huskies return home on Thursday night when they’ll take on Stanford at Hec-Ed.
Double Bonus Dots
- David Crisp concluded probably the best 2.5 game stretch of his career hitting 4/5 3-pointers in the first half of this game (and the miss was a desperation 30-footer at the end of the shot clock). He was an incredible 12/16 from deep during that time stretching back to the start of the Washington State game. However, he was 0/2 in the 2nd half and had only 2 points as Colorado got back into it.
- Maybe David Crisp and Jaylen Nowell just can’t play well at the same time? (Which actually makes some sense). Nowell had just 4 points at the break but came up huge down the stretch with 15 in the second frame. And most of those were incredibly high difficulty level shots. Washington’s offense hit the kind of rut that it experienced many times in non-conference play and the team looked to Nowell to carry them. And carry them he did. He also ended up with 5 assists, 4 steals, and 4 rebounds.
- Noah Dickerson’s struggles continue as he finished with 7 points on only 2 shot attempts and had 5 turnovers. Maybe it’s just that teams are really keying in on him but he still just doesn’t look healthy. It really hurts when he’s playing center because he is taking forever to get back on defense from under one rim to under the other. Colorado and Utah both had coast to coast layups because of that this week.
- Sam Timmins had a very solid game and Coach Hop needed it with Hameir Wright and Noah Dickerson both in severe foul trouble. He had an shockingly graceful up and under for a basket in the 1st half and got stops on Colorado’s final 2 offensive possessions with good defensive positioning. If UW can continue to get 10 solid minutes per game from him the rest of the season it would be a huge boost.
- Jamal Bey played decent minutes in the 1st half after Matisse Thybulle picked up his 2nd and then 3rd foul. Tyler Bey of Colorado is his cousin. The Bey family were at the game wearing shirts with both player’s pictures on them to show dual allegiance.
- With a pair of road wins the Huskies likely move themselves (barely) onto the right side of the bubble pending the rest of tonight’s results. Home games against Stanford and Cal are extremely winnable and Washington can’t afford a slip. If they can emerge from the next 2 weeks (which also includes the Oregon road trip) at 6-1 or better then they’ll be in good position heading down the stretch.
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