The Washington Huskies rolled into Spokane, WA as heavy underdogs (16.5 points) against the 18th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs Friday night. The Huskies were looking to be the first team to knock off Gonzaga at the Kennel in 70 attempts. The last home loss for Gonzaga at the Kennel came almost 4 years ago against their WCC rival Saint Mary’s on January 18th, 2018. Unfortunately, the streak would continue to 70 games after the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated the Washington Huskies by a final score of 77-60.
Both teams would move to a 7-3 record on the season and Mark Few would tie John Wooden with 664 total wins.
With 4 full days of rest, it looked like the Huskies defense came out with a lot of energy early on. The Huskies started out in the 2-3 zone and Gonzaga right away tried to go inside to All-American Drew Timme. Braxton Meah was able to draw a turnover on Timme’s first touch of the ball and moments later had a block on Timme in Gonzaga’s first two possessions.
PJ Fuller was able to get UW on the board first with a nice steal that led to a run out dunk. The next few minutes would look a little ugly on both sides that included 3 offensive fouls in the first 4 minutes of the game. Gonzaga also had 6 early turnovers but the Huskies were not able to take too much advantage of the turnovers, leading only 4-2 during that stretch.
The first half would see a lot of runs by both sides. The first big run by Gonzaga saw them jump out to a 7-4 lead after local Seattle guard from Eastside Catholic, Nolan Hickman hit his first 3 of the game. Drew Timme was also able to draw a 2nd foul on Braxton Meah with 16:11 left in the first half that would force UW to go small the rest of the half. Keion Brooks made a poor pass at half court to Meah, which led to a breakout layup attempt by Timme but was awarded a critical foul on Meah. Braxton Meah would not play the rest of the 1st half and one of those plays that he should have let Timme have the free basket.
Sophomore Jackson Grant who was redshirting only a week ago, came in and provided some impactful minutes in the 1st half. Grant scored his first basket off of a nice feed from PJ fuller and had 5 first half rebounds to lead UW. Grant almost had a 2nd bucket but was called off on offensive basket interference that may have gone in for Koren Johnson.
The Huskies went on their own 6-0 run after a PJ Fuller 3 and Jamal Bey followed up with a three-pointer of his own to take a 12-7 early UW lead . The Washington defense held Gonzaga to an early 1 for 10 shooting and did a good job on the boards early to help build the lead.
Gonzaga would get some help from their bench after 7-foot transfer from LSU Efton Reid scored 4 quick points and Sophomore Hunter Sallis scored on a transition three pointer after a costly turnover by Freshman Koren Johnson. Gonzaga has punished teams all year on transition baskets so turnovers and long misses would prove costly for the Dawgs tonight as well. Gonzaga would go on a 9-0 run to pull the lead to 16-12 before a pair of PJ Fuller free throws stopped the run.
Cole Bajema would go on a little scoring run himself, hitting a three-pointer to tie it at 17-17 and then scored on a nice drive on Anton Watson who didn’t want to pick up his 3rd foul. Timme would draw Keion Brooks' 3rd foul, which would put Brooks on the bench after rough first half. Brooks finished the 1st half with zero points and 3 turnovers.
Cole Bajema would hit his 2nd three-pointer of the 1st half to pull UW within 3 but Gonzaga would go on another 9-0 run in the last 2 minutes of the half before Freshman Keyon Menifield scored on a driving layup before the clock expired. Gonzaga would go into halftime with a 36 to 26 lead, led by Drew Timme with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals. After starting the game 1/10 shooting, Gonzaga would finish the first half shooting 48% from the field.
Cole Bajema would lead the Huskies with 10 and PJ Fuller chipped in 7 but Brooks and Braxton Meah combined for zero first half points with foul trouble.
Gonzaga too much in the 2nd half as the Huskies try a few comeback attempts
The Huskies have been a 2nd half team all season and UW would get off to a strong start to start the 2nd half again. Keion Brooks, who was held scoreless in the 1st half was able to score on the first Huskies possession and Jamal Bey hit his first three-pointer of the game to bring the Huskies within 9 early in the 2nd half.
Braxton Meah was finally able to make his presence felt with 6 quick points in the 2nd half. His first points came on a left handed hook shot over Drew Timme to get on the scoreboard. After Brooks picked up his 4th foul with another offensive charge, Meah was able to score on two straight lob dunks from PJ Fuller to bring UW within 45 to 37 with 15:13 left in the game. Unfortunately, this would be the closest the Huskies would be the rest of the game.
Former Washington recruit Julian Strawther would hit back to back threes to help stretch the lead to 13 and then Hunter Sallis blocked PJ Fuller’s jump shot that led to a Sallis layup on the other end to take a 15 point lead in a flash.
The Huskies would call a timeout with 12:01 left which would leave the Huskies with 1 timeout left the rest of the way. PJ Fuller would hit a couple of free throws to stop the bleeding but Drew Timme would go on his own 6-0 run to pull the Gonzaga lead to 18, which was the largest of the game.
Keion Brooks entered the game with 9:56 left in the game and 4 fouls for a final UW chance to get back in the game. Brooks would immediately hit a three-pointer from the top of the key and Keyon Menifield would follow with a layup to give UW a quick 5-0 run but Rasir Bolton hit a crushing three-pointer to silence the Dawgs a few moments later.
Under 8 minutes left, the Huskies would make a final run. Keyon Menifield hit 1 of 2 free throws but the Huskies set up a half court press that immediately created a PJ Fuller steal and layup. The Huskies forced Gonzaga to call a quick timeout after another half court trap and seemed like the Huskies had a little momentum going. The Huskies created another steal out of the zone but Cole Bajema gave it right back trying to find Brooks in transition for the Huskies 16th turnover of the game. Big opportunity for the Huskies to get back in the game but the Huskies couldn’t convert.
Keion Brooks hit his 2nd three of the game and PJ Fuller scored a nice runner to get within 12 but Fuller came down on Anton Watson’s ankle that forced PJ out of the game for several minutes. Looked to be another costly injury for an already beat up Washington team.
Gonzaga would hit a few free throws and an ill-timed offensive rebound put back by Julian Strawther helped Gonzaga pull the lead back out to 15 with under 4 minutes left in the game, leading 69 to 54. The Huskies and Gonzaga would essentially exchange baskets the rest of the way as the Huskies went small with Keion Brooks at the 5 spot.
PJ Fuller would come back in the game and pick up his 6th assist after another nice lob pass, this time to Keion Brooks for an emphatic dunk. Keion Brooks would have one more garbage time dunk to finish with 14 points, all in the 2nd half. As Gonzaga was shooting free throws in the final seconds, the student section broke out a chant of “$*#$ The Huskies”, which got a quick hook from Coach Mark Few from the bench. Stay Classy Gonzaga.
The Huskies held Gonzaga under their season average of 81 points per game but the Huskies were also held way below their season average with 60 total points, with a final score of 77-60. This would be the largest margin of defeat all season and the lowest scoring output as well for Washington.
Keion Brooks led the Huskies with 14 points and 5 rebounds but had 6 turnovers in the game. PJ Fuller had his best all around game this season with 13 points, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and only 2 turnovers. A 6:2 Assist to Turnover ratio for Fuller would be Fuller’s best performance since he had 7 assists and only 1 turnover versus North Florida earlier in the season. Impressive outing for Fuller versus a much more talented Gonzaga team and coming off of a game with 5 turnovers versus Colorado. Cole Bajema finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds andJamal Bey would chip in with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals as well.
Gonzaga would only have 2 scorers in double digits but did have 7 players score in the game. The Zags were led by Drew Timme with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 4 first half steals. Julian Strawther had 18 points and 12 rebounds that would hurt the Huskies all game. Gonzaga would shoot 52% for the game but only shot 26% from 3 point land (5/19).
All in all, the Huskies were hurt most by several scoring draughts but was to be expected against a team like Gonzaga. The late 1st half 9-2 run in the last 2 minutes really hurt the Huskies who were playing a tight game up until that point.
The Huskies (7-3) look to bounce back next week with two games at home against Cal Poly and Idaho State, before the next marquee Non-conference versus ranked Auburn on December 21st at home.