Washington defeated the San Diego Toreros 86-69 in a rematch from last season. In that game, San Diego star Isaiah Piniero helped to spark both a resilient San Diego offense and some timely defense to force the Huskies to decide the game with some Jaylen Nowell free throws and a few defensive shutdowns at the end of the game. Tonight’s game started in much the same fashion, but ended in a vastly different way.
The Washington offense erupted in the second half and gave Husky fans a glimpse of what coach Mike Hopkins envisions the UW offense will become. The three-headed monster of Isaiah Stewart (25 pts), Jaden McDaniels (20 pts) and Naz Carter (16 pts) finally came together to provide the Huskies a definitive second half blowout of their WCC contestants. While the halfcourt sets still seem a bit stiff, you could see how the pieces are supposed to come together. We saw it all: Stewart’s brilliance in the paint, McDaniels inside-outside versatility and Naz’s ability to create his own shots above the rim or behind the arc.
Offensively, we need to acknowledge the career night delivered by Stewart. It is clear that the Huskies offense is designed to run through the 18 year old big man. Stewart was dominant against a Torero defense that had no answer for him as he was getting just about whatever he wanted to get at the rim all night long both as a scorer and a rebounder. In fact, 3 of his 7 rebounds were offensive. Interestingly, Husky fans got a sense of Stewart’s range when he drained a long three from the top early in the first half only to have it waived off for a travel call.
Stewart wasn’t the only offensive story in this one. Husky fans welcomed the return of the three point shot to the UW repertoire on Sunday night. UW entered the night a distant last place in the conference in three point shooting (26%) after have suffering an ugly oh-fer against Montana last week. Several Huskies were dropping bombs against the Toreros including Nahziah Carter (2 of 4), Hameir Wright (2 of 3), Jaden McDaniels (2 for 3) and Jamal Bey (1 of 1).
The Huskies record moves to 5-1 as they remain a perfect 4-0 at home. They will take the rest of the week off before coming back together for a home game against South Dakota on December 2nd.
- Though the final score makes it look like a laugher, this was competitive for a while. In all, there were six lead changes and four times tied going through most of the first half.
- McDaniels had a great game with 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting. But it almost went off the rails in the first half on a play when a chaotic tussle for a loose rebound resulted in McDaniels hitting the floor in an awkward splits position. I think just about every male Husky fan out there let out an instinctual groan at that moment.
- Washington continues to rack up free throws at an impressive rate. UW shot 24 shots from the charity stripe compared to the Toreros 15 attempts.
- Turnovers haven been part of the offensive woes for the UW offense. The Dawgs were good-not-great in that category with just 10 turnovers surrendered and a +3 on the game.
- Interesting to see UW open up the contest in man defense. We’ve seen this a few times this season most likely to give the UW defense some game reps in that scheme. We didn’t see the zone until six minutes in the game had passed.
- With memories of fumbled inbound passes by guys like Aziz N’Dyiae, Mathew Bryan-Amaning and Spencer Hawes still lingering in my mind, it is so very refreshing to see the hands on Isaiah Stewart. He handles the ball so cleanly whenever it comes in and his first motion is to get the ball high. It’s simple yet beautiful basketball.
- The lopsided second half gave Hopkins a chance to run the reserves out there. At one point Raequan Battle, Marcus Tsohonis and Bryan Penn-Johnson were all on the court at the same time. There was a great series where a Tsohonis fast break ended in a BPJ and-one jam, his first bucket as a Husky. The UW bench went bezerk.
- Washington entered the night 6th in the nation in blocks per game. But despite the Toreros not having any players over 6’8” playing significant minutes, the much longer Huskies only generated four blocks. Not a big deal, but I found it interesting.