As they did in Tempe, the Huskies started out sluggish as Jaylen Nowell collected two quick fouls. Similarly, the Cougars’ CJ Elleby also drew two fouls in the first three minutes of the game.
Both teams started out hot behind the arc as the Cougs and Huskies hit two each going into the first stoppage of time.
The Huskies did not defend the 3 pointers well at the beginning as the Cougs took advantage of Jamal Bey in the zone who continues to get acclimated to playing time.
After a Bey turnover, the Cougs scored on a layup to push the lead to 20-13 and a timeout from Coach Hopkins at the 12:44 mark. The zone looked to be crumbling with Waazu scoring 6 out of 7 field goals going into the timeout.
UW offense was nonexistent at the beginning of the game as it was whittled down to one on one moves without any flow. Coach Hopkins inserted 5 new players with the Dawgs down by 9.
Matisse Thybulle earned two straight dunks to bring the score to 24-17. Hopkins was charged up with the play, rather than attempt to shoot a 3, his senior did the smart thing and took it to the rim. The Dawgs brought the lead to 24-20 but the Cougs came right back with an 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 32-20 which included a breakaway layup by CJ Elleby plus a foul.
The Huskies did tune up their defense but as happened at ASU, the Dawgs could not capitalize. The Cougs controlled the game 36-28 going into the under 4 timeout.
UW got two surprising baskets by Sam Timmons at the end of the half but David Crisp allowed a Jervae Robison driving layup as time expired in the first half to extend the Cougs’ league to 45-36.Marvin Cannon led the way for the Cougs with 18 points. Noah Dickerson and Matisse Thybulle both had 9 for UW.
The story of the first half was the ease that WSU dealt with the zone. Ball movement, finding the open man and knocking down shots contributed to the 45 point first half. The Cougs shot 57 percent from the field and 4-8 from 3 point range. While the Huskies were 5-10 from 3 point range, they were 43 percent from the field. Also, the Cougs nearly doubled the Huskies on the boards with a 19-10 advantage.
The Huskies began to reel them in at the start of the second half and went on a 7-0 run capped off with a Hameir Wright 3 pointer to bring the Coug lead to just 4 at 47-43 right before the 16 minute mark.
The Huskies finally tracked down the Cougs to take the lead with a Jaylen Nowell jumper at 56-54. But the Cougs came back and Robert Franks hit a 3 to put the Cougs up by one, 62-61 at the official under 8 timeout.
After the timeout, the Huskies surged forward after a Thybulle steal and Crisp layup to give UW a 65-62 lead.
The Huskies turned the ball over under 4 minutes and Cannon sunk two free throws to bring the score to 65-64 with 3:29 left in the game. An errant pass by Thybulle gave the ball back to the Cougs and Robert Franks drained a 3 to give WSU a 67-65 lead.
But one more time, the Dawgs came back with a David Crisp steal which resulted in a Jaylen Nowell layup and foul to bring UW ahead with 1:20 to go. On the next possession for WSU, the Huskies forced Robert Franks to step out of bounds. A Jaylen Nowell missed layup was quickly followed by a Noah Dickerson put back giving the senior 18 points and 10 rebounds for the game.
A Robert Franks desperation three off the backboard brought the final score to 72-70. Jaylen Nowell finished with 20 points and Matisse Thybulle had 9 points and 5 steals. The Cougs fell to 3-9 in the conference and 10-15 overall. They were led by Marvin Cannon’s 25 points.
The Huskies are now 20-5 and 11-1 in the Pac-12. It’s the earliest they’ve reached 20 wins since 2004-2005.
The Dawgs showed some grit in this game as it looked as though they would succumb once again to a poor performance on the road. But the defense tightened up forcing the Cougs to turn the ball over. UW may have to recalibrate the zone a little for next week as the Cougs were able to fine gaps in the zone in the first half allowing for easy shots. Still, this is a well-earned win as the Huskies kept active which allowed for Nowell to overcome two early fouls. Nowell really played well in the second half and is showing that he is the go-to guy when the Dawgs are offensively challenged.
The Huskies are home next week against Utah and Colorado.