After a dismal effort against Stanford and with a brutal stretch of the schedule on the horizon, Washington really needed some good feels tonight. And that’s exactly what they got as the suddenly hot shooting Huskies drilled Arizona State for an 87-64 victory. Terrell Brown Jr. as always led the way for the Dawgs with 19 points and 8 assists as one of 4 UW players in double figures. The win improves Washington’s record to 13-9 (8-4) and puts them in sole possession of 5th place in the conference while ASU drops to 7-15 (3-9).
Washington has generally played well at home this season and they got off to a great start behind the energy of the crowd. PJ Fuller and Emmitt Matthews Jr. each hit 3-pointers in the opening minutes and an alley-oop finish by Matthews in transition gave the Huskies a 12-4 advantage. With the Huskies already down Daejon Davis it was scary when Nate Roberts took an inadvertent headbutt to the face and was bleeding heavily from the eye. Fortunately he returned after a few minutes in the back with the training staff but ASU did work on the boards in his absence.
The Sun Devils had 7 offensive rebounds in the first 8 minutes of the game with several of those coming against Riley Sorn. Still, Washington’s defense flustered ASU and even on their 2nd chances they often couldn’t convert. The Dawgs went into the under 12 timeout up double digits at 19-9.
This is where Washington really began to find its stride. The defense from the Huskies completely smothered Arizona State over the next 4 minutes leading to consistent transition opportunities. After a Cole Bajema steal he found Langston Wilson under the basket who earned a trip to the free throw line and made 1 out of 2 to put Washington ahead 30-11 and cap off a 9-0 Husky run.
All of a sudden though Arizona State remembered how to play offense. The Sun Devils hit 9 of their next 12 shots over the following 7 minutes to bring a 20-point Husky advantage all the way down to 8. Fortunately on the last possession of the half Terrell Brown Jr. escaped a triple team and found a wide open Nate Roberts under the hoop for a dunk just before the buzzer. Washington led at the break 42-32 behind Brown’s 11 points and 5 assists.
Both teams started off the 2nd half hot as there was a made 3-pointer on each of the first 3 possessions with treys by Matthews and Fuller plus one for ASU. The Sun Devils managed to keep getting the ball into the high post and make good decisions either hitting floaters, jump hooks, or baseline jumpers. That resulted in 13 points in 4 minutes but Washington managed to keep pace just enough to prevent ASU from cutting much into the lead and it was 54-45 at the first media timeout of the half.
Sorn committed goaltending to give ASU their last 2 points before the timeout but quickly made up for it. He got a nice dump off pass from Terrell Brown Jr. for an easy dunk and on the other end blocked a shot which resulted in a runout and midrange jumper by Brown. The quick 4-0 burst in 30 seconds resulted in a Bobby Hurley timeout. The Sun Devils were generally good out of stoppages tonight but on defense Brown deflected a pass that went straight to Matthews who fired it ahead to Cole Bajema for a slick and-1 layup. ASU countered with a quick 5-0 run but UW immediately swatted them down with an 8-0 run of their own over the next 70 seconds to go back up 69-50.
The UW offensive onslaught just continued as the Huskies scored on their next 4 possessions while the Sun Devils suddenly were stymied by the UW defense. Cole Bajema stole multiple passes in that stretch as well as hit a deep 3. After a single empty possession for the Dawgs, PJ Fuller stepped into a 3 to extend the lead all the way out to 79-52 with 9:24 left to put it way out of reach even with UW’s propensity for blowing late leads.
Arizona State did manage to string together baskets after putting on a full-court press to try to speed up the Huskies. They at times got the margin back within 20 points but UW was ultimately able to cruise to an emphatic 87-64 win.
Terrell Brown Jr. finished with 19 points, 8 assists, and just 1 turnover. He had help though as UW shot 43% from the 3-point line which helped PJ Fuller (16 pts), Emmitt Matthews Jr. (15 pts, 4-7 3’s), and Cole Bajema (12 pts, 4 steals) also end up in double figures.
This win was badly needed as the Huskies now face by far the toughest part of their schedule. Each of their next 3 games are against ranked teams and their next 7 games are against the other 5 teams beside them in the top half of the conference standings. That kicks off with #4 Arizona coming to town at 3p on Saturday afternoon.