The Washington Huskies traveled cross state to play the Washington State Cougars in the Boeing Classic Apple Cup. This game was rescheduled from December due to a Covid outbreak in the Washington State program and a rare home and home matchup for the Huskies and Cougars this week. The banged up Huskies (13-13 and 8-8) would put up a fight but eventually fall to the Cougars (15-12 and 8-8) by a score of 78-70.
The Huskies would come into the game short handed missing Daejon Davis (shoulder) for his 5th straight game and Emmitt Matthews (Head injury) for his 1st missed game of the year. Coming off 3 straight losses by an average of 20 points, the Huskies would have to step up big time to make up for their two missing leaders. With Daejon Davis out the last 5 games, the Washington Defense has not been as disruptive without him and adding Matthews to that list would add end up making it too easy for the Cougars to score tonight.
Early on, the Huskies were able to get off to a strong start, led by Juco Transfer Langston Wilson and making his 2nd straight start in his career. Wilson started the game with a tip dunk and then scored again on an alley-oop dunk from Terrell Brown to take an early 6-2 lead.
Center Nate Roberts got into the action as well scoring two early baskets and collecting 4 offensive rebounds in the 1st half before catching his 2nd foul and sitting on the bench for the final 5 minutes.
The Huskies would start off with a very balanced effort as 8 players saw playing time in the first half and 7 of them found the scoring column. Reserve Cole Bajema led the Huskies early on with 9 points off of 4 field goals, including a no hesitation three-pointer to give UW a 20-17 lead early on.
Terrell Brown put his point guard hat on and found his teammates in the first half, leading the team with 7 assists. Three or four of those led to easy dunks or layups for his teammates, including two dunks for Riley Sorn. Brown would chip in 4 points in the 1st half but only 2-6 shooting as the Cougars threw a lot of pressure at him.
The Cougars lead the conference in 3 point field goal attempts (27.3) and 3-point makes (9) so it was apparent that the Huskies strategy in the 1st half was to take away the 3-point shot, which is exactly what they did. However, by covering the 3 point shot, it allowed Freshman Mouhamed Gueye go wild in the middle of the zone. It felt like a replay over and over with Gueye hitting mid range jumpers left and right. Gueye, a 46% Free throw shooter had no issues shooting the ball in the zone and finished with 13 points in the 1st half.
The Huskies Come Up Short In The 2nd Half
Coming out of half-time, it would be the Cougars who jumped out first with a 13-1 run and the Cougs were able to get loose for three 3-pointers in the early minutes after the Huskies held the Cougars to only one 3-pointer in the 1st half. Washington State jumped out to a 46-34 lead until PJ Fuller was able to stop the bleeding with a bucket.
Down ten at the Under 16 timeout, the Huskies were able to chip away with some effort plays from Langston Wilson, who also added a pair of free throws and drew a charge that led to a Terrell Brown layup. Any defensive stop would be important as the Cougars were able to score routinely in the paint.
The Huskies would mix up the Zone with Man to Man in the 2nd half and the big men for the Cougars would end up feasting on the smaller Huskies by finding the mismatch of Terrell Brown guarding a taller Dishon Jackson and Efe Abogidi. The help would be too late and Brown would be left on an island guarding someone a foot taller than him.
PJ Fuller would do his part to help keep UW in the game and had a career offensive performances. Fuller would finish with 5-9 shooting (Career High) from 3 and scored 23 points (Career High) to lead the Huskies in scoring.
Fuller would knock down his 4th three to get the Huskies within 3 at 53-50 and then followed up with a big defensive rebound to draw a foul. On the very next possession, Nate Roberts perhaps made his best post move in his career, scoring over Mouhamed Gueye with a nice pump fake and spin for a layup to get UW within 1 point at 55-54.
The Huskies and the Cougars would go back and forth until a critical foul call on Nate Roberts was made with 4:46 left in the game. Roberts seemed to make a strong play for an offensive rebound and was in position to lay it up until the refs called Roberts for his 5th foul. Efe Abogidi would end up making two free throws and would turn into a 4 point turn around with that controversial call.
With Roberts on the bench, Washington would be forced to bring in Riley Sorn but Sorn was able to help make a few plays including hitting two free throws to keep UW within 3 at 69-66. Shortly after, Sorn was able to get his hands on a tough rebound but unfortunately lost the ball and immediately fouled Efe who hit two more free throws. Sorn would make up for that play and get a piece of an Efe Abogidi dunk attempt that led to a PJ Fuller Transition layup to pull UW within 71-70 with 2:40 left.
Unfortunately, that would be the last time UW would score and WSU would finish the game on a 7-0 run to win 78-70. The Huskies had a few good looks in the last two minutes, including an open 3 attempt from Bey and Bajema to try and tie it or keep it at a one possession game but rimmed out. The Cougars were able to clean up the rebounds and finish game hitting 5 straight free throws to seal it.
Mouhamed Gueye was the story of the game, scoring a career high 25 points on 11-23 shooting. Credit to Gueye, the Huskies dared him to hit the mid-range shot and he was knocking them down all game. Gueye also finished with 3 assists.
It was apparent the Huskies strategy was to take away the 3 and they were able to do that with only giving up 4 made three pointers on 17 attempts (23.5%) but the Cougars were able to clean up their misses with 15 offensive rebounds and 26 second chance points. With Huskies defenders so high up, it left the post vulnerable and WSU made the Huskies pay.
This was a game where the Huskies were shorthanded without Emmitt Matthews and Daejon Davis but the Huskies were able to get important contributions from PJ Fuller with 23 points; Cole Bajema with 11 points and 6 boards; and Langston Wilson with 6 points and 3 boards in 19 minutes.
Terrell Brown struggled scoring the ball with only 11 points but was able to add 8 assists, however 7 of those assists were in the first half. The Cougars threw a lot of pressure at Brown and made him shoot over a few shot blockers in Abogidi, Gueye and Dishon Jackson.
Overall, the offense put together one of their better shooting performances of the year shooting 46.3% from the field and would turn out to be the first time UW has lost a game shooting above 42% this season. A common trend in previous losses for UW was shooting well below 42% or allowing opponents to shoot well over 42% so the Huskies were able to score the ball but too much damage from Gueye/Abogidi and giving up 2nd chance points.
The Huskies and the Cougars will turn around and play each other again Saturday at 3 pm in Seattle. Will be interesting to see if Matthews and/or Davis will be available in a critical game for both teams.