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Free Throw Woes Doom Huskies in 66-58 Home Loss to Montana

Abysmal shooting outside the paint dropped UW to 1-5 on the year

Washington v Montana Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After it looked like Washington found their groove in the 2nd half against Oregon the Huskies came back completely flat and dropped their last home non-conference game to Montana by a score of 66-58. You have to make your free throws to win and the Huskies finished an absolutely terrible 8/19 from the charity stripe in contrast to Montana’s 22/27 mark. The loss drops the Dawgs down to 1-5 on the season as they continue to find new lows.

It was an omen of things to come when Hameir Wright was called for an offensive foul driving to the basket on the first possession. The Huskies managed to get a few early makes both off nice assists from Erik Stevenson but after taking a 5-1 lead they completely fell apart. The turnover issues from the first half against Oregon reared their ugly head again and unlike in that game Quade Green didn’t have it going to keep the rest of the offense afloat. The Grizzlies doubled him every time he touched the ball and his only shot attempts in the first half were forced and not close.

Meanwhile, Montana did just enough to get the ball consistently inside with a series of bounce passes to scrape by offensively. The Grizzlies went on a 17-3 over the course of 7 minutes following the early offensive drought as Washington had absolutely no answers on the offensive end. Riley Sorn entered the game for Nate Roberts and committed 2 fouls on consecutive plays and went almost straight back to the bench.

Washington got a brief boost offensively from Nate Roberts. First Marcus Tsohonis got a floater of an entry pass into him for a dunk and then Roberts secured a tough offensive board on the next possession and layed it in off the glass. A tough Stevenson runner in the lane cut the Montana lead to single digits at 23-14 when the foul troubles asserted themselves. The Huskies were called for defensive fouls on 4 consecutive possessions, the first 3 of which all went against Quade Green over the course of 30 seconds of game action and sent him to the bench.

Montana extended their lead despite going 5 minutes without a field goal as they suddenly were able to live at the free throw line. The Grizzlies finished the first half 11/12 from the charity stripe meanwhile Washington went an abysmal 1/7. Coming into the game the Huskies had made 80% of their free throws while Montana had made 67%. Fortunately Nate Pryor hit a free throw line jumper and Montana missed a corner 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds to make the halftime margin 33-21 when it could’ve been much worse considering the free throw woes and the ugly 12 Husky turnovers.

Coming out of halftime the Huskies showed renewed life. The defense started forcing turnovers and Quade Green made his first basket of the game to spark a quick 4-0 run that forced an early Montana timeout. Unfortunately, UW couldn’t take advantage of the stepped up defense as Quade Green missed a pair of contested transition layups (with no calls both times). The Huskies closed it to within 6 but Montana stabilized and got the lead pushed back out to 12 at 39-27.

After a few minutes of stagnant play though the defense once against started forcing Montana misses and the Huskies picked it up offensively. First Nate Roberts got a putback, then Nate Pryor drove for a layup, and finally Battle hit a floater high off the glass to rattle off a quick 6 points. Then Riley Sorn went on a 6-0 run by himself and threw in a block for good measure as the Husky guards penetrated and were able to drop it off to him under the basket for dunks.

Finally, with 7 minutes remaining the Huskies managed to tie the game after RaeQuan Battle soared in for a putback to bring it even at 48. Things stayed mostly even until a pair of Quade Green free throws gave Washington a 2-point lead at 53-51 and it looked like the Dawgs would be able to finally take control. Montana though broke the momentum with a 3-pointer over the hard close from RaeQuan Battle and Hameir Wright missed a pair of free throws on the other end. After Roberts’ 4th foul gave Montana another 2 free points a final 3-point dagger from the Grizzlies ended any chance of a comeback.

The Huskies have proved in this early season that to have any chance they need Quade Green to be well above average and then need to have someone else on the team step up. Quade was far from that tonight finishing an atrocious 1/11 from the field for 4 points and 4 assists. Strong effort from the UW centers (Roberts 13 points and 10 rebounds, Sorn 10 points 4 rebounds) weren’t enough to save the Dawgs.

Any goodwill that might have been earned by the blowout win over Seattle and just too short comeback against Oregon disappeared tonight. The Huskies now travel to Las Vegas to take on Colorado on Sunday night in what counts as a non-conference game as they will play nothing but Pac-12 teams from here on out.

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