The Huskies ditched their 2-3 zone defense tonight and the strategy worked brilliantly. Ball State has two of the best three-point shooters in the country on their roster, so Washington switched to a very effective man-to-man defense. Ultimately, Washington limited Ball State to just 29% from deep (7-24) to secure an 85-64 victory in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Jaden McDaniels and Quade Green led the way for the Huskies offensively, scoring 22 and 21 points, respectively. Most notably, Washington was able to beat Ball State at their own game and hit a season high 11 three-point shots, including four from both McDaniels and Green. Isaiah Stewart was able to directly benefit from the success of the Huskies’ perimeter shooting. As Ball State had to guard the three-point line more aggressively, Stewart took over in the paint and contributed 19 points of his own along with 10 rebounds. Hameir Wright was the fourth Husky player to score in double digits by adding another 10 points to the winning cause. Overall, the Huskies shot 56% from the field, including hitting nearly 46% of their threes.
The scoring for both teams was fairly even through the first eight minutes of the game. It wasn’t until Washington went on an 8-0 run that they were able to separate themselves from Ball State. It started with back-to-back three-pointers from Green around the 11 minute mark, followed by two free-throws by Stewart. From that point on, Washington never relinquished their lead.
That isn’t to say that Ball State didn’t keep it interesting for a time. Despite being down by 11 at the half (51-40), Ball State went on a 9-1 run to start the second half and closed to within two points of the Huskies. But Washington responded with their own 12-2 run and began to comfortably pull away. Nahziah Carter flushed a dunk with 9:40 left in the game to give the Huskies a 62-51 lead. Ball State never got closer than within 10 points for the rest of the game and in the end lost by 21.
This was a very good neutral site win for the Huskies, who were coming off a season high 58% shooting performance against Seattle U and managed to continue their hot shooting despite the long flight to Hawaii.
The No. 22 Huskies are now 9-2 on the season and will play the winner of UTEP-Hawaii in the semi-final of the Diamond Head Classic on Monday.