The stakes were clear in this one. A win and not only do you advance to the Pac-12 tournament semifinals but you 100% clinch a trip to the NCAA tournament ending a 7-season drought. A loss and you have a very uncomfortable next few days leading into the selection show. Washington tried their hardest to keep USC in the game late but the Huskies held on for a 78-75 victory and have seemingly assured themselves of a spot in the Big Dance come Sunday.
USC’s Jonah Mathews hit a 3-pointer to bring the Trojans within a single point at 72-71 with 68 seconds remaining. But then Dominic Green hit a step back 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to extend it back to 4 and Matisse Thybulle immediately stepped in front of a lazy USC pass and took it for a windmill slam and 77-71 lead with 33 seconds left.
But the Huskies collapsed in that time as Matisse Thybulle fouled a 3-point shooter who made 2 of 3 free throws and the Huskies went 1/5 from the line in the final 30 seconds to give USC a chance. However, Nick Rakocevic threw the ball out of bounds with 3 seconds left down by 3 which snuffed out any chance at the comeback.
Washington had one of their worst offensive performances in recent memory in the first half of their last game against Oregon on Saturday night. Fears that we might be in for a repeat were put to bed early. Hameir Wright hit a pair of 3’s in the first 3 minutes of the game to get Washington out to an early 8-1 lead. Jaylen Nowell and David Crisp would soon follow with 3’s of their own and the Huskies led by 10 at 14-4 with 15:13 remaining in the first half.
The game would soon become a matter of trading runs however. USC found Nick Rakocevic early and the big man was able to get layups or put backs frequently around the basket. Especially once Hameir Wright went out with his 2nd foul with 13 minutes left in the half. USC pulled back within 3 but David Crisp took over and extended the Husky lead back out to 10 points at 28-18.
Washington had a disastrous sequence with some poor decisions by Naz Carter, Sam Timmins, and Dominic Green leading to a very quick 5-0 run for USC and they got it to within 4 at 30-26.
But more hot shooting from Crisp and a Jaylen Nowell 3 pointer capped a quick 10-2 run to put Washington back on top at 40-28 with 3:17 left. That left the feeling that if the Huskies could just put together 2 or 3 stops in a row that they might be able to pull away with something like an insurmountable lead at the half.
Kevin Porter Jr. had possibly the best half of his disappointing only year in L.A including an absolutely ferocious putback jam and a half-court bank shot 3-pointer at the buzzer which sent the two teams to the half at 43-38. Crisp led Washington with 14 points while Porter Jr. led USC with 13 of his own.
Things slowed down after the offensive explosion of the 1st half. Both teams got a basket in the first minute of the half but then there were a slew of turnovers over the next few minutes including multiple series where one team got a steal then immediately turned it over in transition. At the under 16 a combined 6 points had been scored and UW’s lead was down to 45-42.
Naz Carter took over the reigns from Hameir Wright at that point as UW’s surprise breakout offensive player and got 5 straight points while being fouled twice but unfortunately missed a pair of free throws. Unfortunately, he picked up his 4th foul on a very dubious blocking foul in which he was bulldozed over and was pulled from the game with the Huskies up by 8 and 12 minutes left in the game.
A Dominic Green 3-pointer with 9 minutes remaining extended the Washington lead to 10 at 64-54 but USC made their final push and wouldn’t let the Huskies coast to a victory. Bennie Boatwright hit a trio of 3-pointers after being shut down for most of the game and Washington went scoreless over 4+ minutes to let USC back into it leading to the extremely stressful finish.
Jaylen Nowell ended up leading Washington with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. David Crisp also had a great game with 18 points and 6 assists while Naz Carter chipped in for 13 points and 4 rebounds.
The Huskies will take on the winner of Colorado and Oregon State at 6p tomorrow on Friday night on Pac-12 Network.
Double Bonus Dots
- USC had one of the best offenses in the conference and they largely carved up Washington by shooting 45% from the field and 40.7% from 3-point range. UW came out on fire from 3 but finished 13 of 28 to USC’s 11 of 27.
- Meanwhile, USC who was 336th in the country in FT% coming in went 10/12 from the FT line compared to UW’s atrocious 7/15.
- USC’s Kevin Porter Jr. who is from Seattle (likely) ended his college career with a career high 17 points.
- Matisse didn’t have a great offensive game but he finished with 5 steals to break his own record for most steals by a Pac-12 player in a single season and will likely pass Gary Payton for the career conference record next game. His windmill dunk though was incredibly risky given the time and score but also just flat out incredible.
- Noah Dickerson had 22 and 11 the first time UW played USC and it was clear that the Trojans’ focal point was shutting him down. Noah finished with just 2 points on 1/7 shooting with 3 turnovers and a missed front end of a 1-and-1 in the closing seconds to keep USC alive. Those misses included a wide open dunk and a wide open layup as he seemingly was spooked by the double and triple teams being sent at him. However, he still did work on the offensive glass and finished with a team high 11 rebounds fighting Rakocevic down low.
You can follow me @UWDP_maxvroom for all your UW Men’s Basketball news and notes