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UW Overcomes Sluggish Start to Beat Cal 71-52

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The Huskies improve to 5-0 in Pac-12 play

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

With the Huskies facing the worst team in the Pac-12 and looking for program win number 1,000 in Hec Ed Pavilion as motivation most expected UW to coast in this one. And Washington certainly seemed to think that was a foregone conclusion as well as they sleepwalked through the first 10 minutes before turning on the jets and dispatching Cal by a score of 71-52.

UW's offense was completely MIA in the beginning of the game and a Matisse Thybulle 3-pointer was Washington's first made field goal a full 4 and a half minutes into the game. It would be another 7 minutes and 22 seconds until they made their second. But the Husky defense and some trips to the free throw line meant despite starting 2 of 18 from the floor the Huskies only trailed by a score of 23-12 with 6 minutes left in the half.

The problems were numerous for Washington’s offense. Despite Cal possessing one of the worst defenses in the country, their zone flummoxed Washington. The Bears packed the paint and swarmed anyone trying to drive leading to several turnovers, some forced and some just on careless passes. So instead UW took perimeter shot after perimeter shot and just kept missing. A pair of wide open Dominic Green corner 3's that rimmed out in the first few minutes seemed to set the tone. They were part of a 1 of 11 start from outside for Washington.

The drought couldn't last forever though and Dominic Green's open looks started going down as he made 3 of them in a 3 minute span which catapulted the Huskies to a miraculous 29-28 halftime lead. Washington ended the half on a 24-13 run.

The offense continued to pick up once both teams returned from the break as a Jaylen Nowell 3 capped a quick 8-2 run in the first 3 minutes to extend the UW lead to 7. After that 1 of 11 start from beyond the arc the Huskies made 8 of their next 9 from deep and the lead quickly swelled to double digits.

Both teams struggled to find a rhythm though as the 2nd half was riddled with fouls and turnovers. Multiple series resulted in the Huskies getting a steal then immediately turning it back over including a sequence where Noah Dickerson got the steal then threw it ahead to Dominic Green who wasn't looking and so the ball hit him in the back of the head and bounced out of bounds.

With 18 turnovers and 9 missed free throws the Huskies gave Cal plenty of chances but the Bears were just 1 of 15 shooting 3-pointers and it sunk any hope they had of getting back into it.

Washington held a 66-50 lead when freshmen Jamal Bey and Elijah Hardy checked in with 3 minutes remaining. And the lead ballooned above 20 as the walk-ons got into the game with one minute left. Dominic Green led 5 Huskies in double figures with 17 points. Freshman forward Andre Kelly led Cal in scoring with 14 points despite fouling out.

Washington improved to 14-4 (5-0) and holds onto their 1st place spot in the conference standings as the lone undefeated squad. They face a major test next week though with the Oregon road trip which starts with a game at Eugene at 6p next Thursday night.

DOUBLE BONUS DOTS

  • Against a porous Cal interior the hope was that Noah Dickerson would be able to find his rhythm and average closer to his numbers from the non-conference or last year. But the Golden Bears’ zone did a good job of denying Dickerson the ball and he only had 3 field goal attempts. However he was able to repeatedly get to the line in the second half and still finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Although his 5 missed free throws are the most since the Texas A&M game back before Thanksgiving.
  • Jaylen Nowell came close to also having a double double as he finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Nowell settled for and missed several jumpers early in the 1st half which contributed to UW’s slow start but became more aggressive as the game went on. His 4 turnovers though were a major problem.
  • Naz Carter has been on a tear recently but he did not have a good offensive game. Carter finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 turnovers almost all of which were caused by over-dribbling in traffic. At one point he got thrown to the ground (which wasn’t called) and retaliated with a bump as he ran back down the court and was assessed with the technical. It was understandable that he’d be mad but this will be a learning opportunity for him that it’s the 2nd guy who always gets called.
  • Hameir Wright had a solid game with 0 missed shots and 3 blocks which I think is what Hop wants to see out of him right now. His only shot was a no, no, YES layup in which he took two long strides a scooped in a layup from the other side of the rim. After his last blocked shot he asked out of the game and appeared to get his wrist taped and did not return. Hopefully he’ll be ok and holding him out was a precaution when UW held a double digit lead at the time.

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