Whatever Coach Hopkins told the Huskies following their disappointing loss to UCLA on Thursday it certainly seems to have worked. Washington played their best game of the season against USC in a blowout 72-40 victory. Isaiah Stewart finished with yet another double double with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Quade Green contributed 14 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. The win boosts UW to 11-4 (1-1) and drops USC to 12-3 (1-1).
Washington’s improved defensive intensity was evident right from the get go as the Huskies jumped out to a quick 10-1 lead and it took USC nearly 4 minutes to score their first point on a free throw by Onyeka Okongwu. The Husky offense bogged down after the initial burst and the two teams traded turnovers as the game quickly became a rock fight. Neither team were able to shoot it very well from outside and UW blocked seemingly every attempt by the Trojans to get the ball inside to their normally dominant big men.
Washington scored just 4 points in a six minute span that saw USC cut the lead down to just 2 at 14-12. More disturbing though was that Isaiah Stewart picked up his 2nd foul and headed to the bench. That generally has been a disaster for the Huskies this season. But Nate Roberts had his coming out party to save the day.
Roberts had three thunderous dunks in the first half including two that may have been travels but were undeniably beautiful as he stormed down the lane and threw it down. The emergence of Roberts plus a few jumpers by both Naz Carter and Quade Green allowed Washington to stretch out to a double digit lead and went into the break up 35-21. Stewart never needed to re-enter the game and USC failed to make a 3-point shot.
USC looked like they might be ready to make a run at the start of the 2nd half despite 4 quick points from Isaiah Stewart. A layup by Nick Rakocevic kept the Trojans within 12 but on the next possession Rakocevic missed a layup and his own putback attempt and Jaden McDaniels hit a 3-pointer. That was as close as the game would get the rest of the way.
6 consecutive points from Stewart ballooned the lead up to 50-29 and a long rebound gave the Huskies a 3 on 1 in transition which Jamal Bey finished with a slam prompting a USC timeout. The Trojans answered by making a 15-foot jumper when Bey was called for a foul from behind but USC missed the free throw and then went a full 8 minutes and 42 seconds before making their next shot from the floor.
By that point the Huskies had gone up by more than 30 points and the 3-pointer by Max Agbonkpolo with 1:07 left ended up being USC’s last points of the game bringing them up to 40.
Washington next takes the court on Thursday night against Stanford at 6pm PT against a much improved Cardinal team inside what should be a still dead Maples Pavilion.
Double Bonus Dots
- USC finished the contest shooting just 2/15 (13%) from 3-point range and a putrid 12/25 (48%) from the free throw line. High 4-star freshman Isaiah Mobley in particular had a terrible night shooting 2/13 from the floor and 0/5 from the free throw line. This will almost certainly be the worst night of his college career but woof.
- The Huskies certainly weren’t perfect on offense committing 18 turnovers and shooting 29% from the 3-point line. But they didn’t need to be with USC stinking up the joint so badly. Coming off his no-show against UCLA Jaden McDaniels was terrible on the offensive end tonight shooting 3/12 from the field and missing his last 4 free throw attempts. He also got called for a chippy double foul and after that every call seemingly went against him. The refs know his reputation and I doubt he’ll get much of a friendly whistle the rest of the way.
- However, he was spectacular on defense and more than made up for it. McDaniels finished the night with 6 blocks and 7 rebounds. That was part of a season high 12 blocks for the Huskies against a team that coming into the game ranked 6th in the nation in opposing block percentage. The USC bigs were not comfortable at all working inside against Isaiah Stewart and their hesitation allowed McDaniels and Carter (4 blocks) to come from behind and get the swat over and over.
- The story of the game coming into the night was the battle between 5-star centers Isaiah Stewart and Onyeka Okongwu. Stewart finished with 18 and 10 plus 2 blocks while Okongwu finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds. Edge: Stewart.
- The star of the 1st half as mentioned in the recap was Nate Roberts who finished with 7 points on 3/3 shooting and 7 rebounds plus several other hustle plays where he couldn’t quite get the board before it went out of bounds. His energy was infectious and it seems like it will be impossible to keep him off the court moving forward. Hameir Wright getting called for 3 fouls in the first half opened the door for Roberts and we’ll see if it stays open. For what it’s worth Wright played a very good game in limited minutes knocking down his only 3 to start the scoring and finishing with a steal and what should’ve been a block rather than a foul.
- RaeQuan Battle and Bryan Penn-Johnson got into the game in the final 4 minutes and took over the closing period. Battle had a really nice rebound in traffic plus 2 steals but missed a pair of 3-pointers. BPJ made 2 baskets including a dunk with 40 seconds left to finish with 4 points.
- It’s somewhat frustrating to see this kind of blowout because it makes Thursday’s loss to UCLA all the more inexcusable. If Washington is able to learn from that game and go on a run in conference play then it will ultimately wipe out the bad loss. They badly needed this win and got it. Unlikely the inconsistency just goes away but who knows if this is what they needed to fully gel.