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Husky Defense Closes Strong For 77-66 Win Over Seattle

The Dawgs overcame a narrow halftime deficit to pull away late

NCAA Basketball: Wooden Legacy Championship-Washington vs St. Mary’s Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a tournament victory and upset of Saint Mary's it was natural to think UW may be ripe for a letdown. A collapse in the middle 10 minutes of the game saw the Huskies blow a double-digit lead and increased those fears. Washington's defense though finally started to collect steals in the final 12 minutes which led to dunks and in the end UW ran away for a 77-66 victory. The win improves UW to 6-1 on the season.

Washington got off to just about the perfect start. Braxton Meah worked his size advantage for a pair of baskets and after each was a 3 by PJ Fuller and then Cole Bajema. The Redhawks looked hesitant taking the ball inside against Meah and missed their first few jumpers. That resulted in a lightning quick 10-0 lead and an early Seattle timeout.

The Redhawks finally got a 3 to go down. They also got a transition basket after PJ Fuller didn't get a foul call following a steal and fell hard resulting in a 5v4. Washington weathered the quick response though when Cole Bajema pump faked and drove to get an and-1 layup to fall for an old fashioned 3-point play. He then slammed home a transition dunk to put UW up 17-5 and it looked like a rout may be on.

Seattle though is a prolific shooting team (in volume and percentage) and they hit back-to-back 3's. Bajema looked to end the run by bringing the house down with a very ambitious dunk attempt. It was blocked but the defender got in Bajema's face afterwards for several seconds and was called for an obvious technical foul. Cole calmly knocked down both and Kepnang also drew a foul and hit both for a 4-point possession.

After UW stretched out the lead on the back of more free throws, the Redhawks finally made it to the line. First, they hit a miracle and-1 midrange jumper. Then Fuller fouled a 3-point attempt on a lunging close out and Seattle made all 3 for another quick 6-0 run. With the refs calling 5 straight fouls against the Huskies the UW offense dried up. The Dawgs turned it over on 3 straight possessions which let Seattle close it to just 28-26 after UW lost track of Seattle's leading scorer Cameron Tyson for his first wide open look from 3. Jamal Bey ended the run with a pair of tough baskets driving the ball into traffic.

Seattle just kept shooting though and if they missed they kept getting offensive rebounds. After UW got up 5 on a fastbreak Meah dunk, Cameron Tyson pulled up from the logo and swished a 3. In the final 90 seconds of the half Seattle secured 5 offensive rebounds leading to 5 second chance points and it gave them their first lead of the game at 40-38 just before halftime.

Seattle continued their run after the break. They scored on each of their first 3 possessions and got their advantage out to 47-40 for Seattle. Keion Brooks tried to take over on offense and scored UW's first 6 points after the break. Cameron Tyson showed off his amazing shooting again though as he hit a stepback 3 over Bajema's solid contest to push it back out to 50-44 before the first media timeout of the half.

Jamal Bey put UW on his back for a moment as he drove and put in a tough runner through uncalled contact. On the other end he stepped in for a steal and got it out front to Bajema for a run out dunk. He then once again tapped a pass ahead that ended in Keion Brooks' hands for a thunderous slam to tie the game at 50 prompting a Seattle timeout with 14:29 left.

Brooks gave the Dawgs the lead again on a pair of free throws but Seattle immediately took it back on another Tyson 3. Washington went to their twin towers lineup and it had mixed results at first. Kepnang hit a jump hook to put UW back on top but the next time down Meah lost it out of bounds on a post-up try.

After a few misses by each team it played greater dividends. Meah and Kepnang combined for 6 quick points leading to another Seattle timeout. Brooks bullied his way for a layup and Jamal Bey stole the inbounds, got fouled, and made both to suddenly put UW up 65-53.

The Huskies looked like they might be blowing a golden opportunity as both Koren Johnson and Keion Brooks missed the front end of 1-and-1's. But PJ Fuller stepped in front of a pass and took it coast to coast for a dunk. Shortly after, Brooks got a nice feed from Koren Johnson for an open slam and UW went up 72-55 with just over 5 minutes left to put it out of reach.

The Redhawks looked like they had a chance to make it interesting hitting consecutive floaters over Meah's reach. He came up big though with a tough offensive board and got fouled on the putback attempt and made both free throws.

A shadow was cast over the game with a few minutes left when PJ Fuller dribbled the ball off his own foot. The ball rolled the other way and Fuller went to pick it up past halfcourt for an over and back. As he did though, Cam Tyson dove into the back of Fuller's legs going for the loose ball. Fuller crumpled and stayed down for about a minute. He eventually walked off under his own power but limped back to the locker room. Hopefully he's okay as UW's guard depth is already perilously thin with Noah Williams out.

Dom Penn entered the game late and hit a 3 for his new team against his former one.

Keion Brooks ended up with a game high 20 points (15 in the 2nd half) while Braxton Meah had 18 on 7/7 shooting from the floor and 4/4 shooting from the line. Although he did miss the front end of a 1-and-1 but got a re-do from a Seattle lane violation. Cole Bajema had 16 points including 3 dunks while Jamal Bey chipped in with 10. The freshman guard duo of Menifield and Johnson finished scoreless although Johnson’s defense was huge in the 2nd half.

Seattle missed 11 straight 3-pointers before Penn's make in the final minute to end up just 10/40 from deep compared to UW's 3/13. Washington started off making their first 2 shots beyond the arc.

The Huskies play their first conference game and first true road game on Thursday night against Oregon State.