The Huskies faced a replay against Washington State whom they lost to in Pullman by a 78-70 score on Wednesday night. This time though the Dawgs had reinforcements as both Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Daejon Davis returned from injury. They helped propel a 50 point 2nd half scoring outburst that saw Washington turn things around for a 78-70 win of their own this time out. The win improves Washington to 14-13 (9-8) on the season as Terrell Brown Jr. finished with a team high 25 points.
Washington saw the impact of Emmitt Matthews Jr.’s return from injury right away. He cleaned up a Brown layup and put it back for the game’s first points to put the Dawgs on the board. Both teams though were looking for the 3-point shot early as a Bey 3 tied the game at 8-8. The Cougars answered as it officially became the Michael Flowers game. Flowers hit his 3rd deep 3 of the early going to give WSU a 11-8 lead heading into the first media timeout.
Unlike in the last game where the UW bigs were in constant foul trouble, the emphasis on shooting jumpers helped contribute to 0 fouls being called over the first 9+ minutes of the game until Emmitt Matthews Jr. got a call on the floor driving to the basket. Flowers continued his hot streak as he hit a midrange jumper which was part of a 7-0 Washington State run prompting a timeout from Coach Hopkins.
Daejon Davis entered the game for the first time and was able to make an impact. He drove for a layup on his first shot attempt back from injury and then somehow got a wild buzzer beating midrange jumper off the glass to fall. Then Jamal Bey hit a wing 3 in transition to tie the game up at 17 with 9:20 left in the half.
However UW’s defense fell asleep on the very next possession as they left (you guessed it) Flowers wide open and he drained the 3 to put the Cougs back on top. With 6:56 left in the half Terrell Brown Jr. finally scored a point as he was fouled on a midrange jumper attempt and split a pair at the line. A few minutes later he was again fouled by Noah Williams and sank the jumper to complete the 3-point play. Unfortunately that didn’t get him going as he finished the first half just 1/9 from the floor with that single made shot and 4 total points.
With 2 minutes left in the half Daejon Davis jumped the passing lane and looked to have an easy transition layup. Tyrell Roberts came in with a two-handed foul as Davis started his leap making no attempt at the ball and it was upgraded to a flagrant. Unfortunately Davis with a shoulder brace still on following his injury split a pair at the line and then Roberts lost the ball for a turnover. The Cougars answered with Michael Flowers getting fouled by Bey on a corner 3 attempt and sinking all 3 free throws letting them enter halftime with a 34-28 advantage over UW. Bey and Matthews each had 6 points to lead the Dawgs at the half while Flowers had 20 points on 6/8 shooting for the Cougs.
After such a foul-light first half the refs started making up for it. The Huskies were called for 3 fouls on 2 possessions early in the 2nd half, one of which was Bey’s 3rd as he sat for Daejon Davis. That impact was felt as Davis again jumped the passing lane for a steal and an uncontested dunk which put UW back within 2 and prompted a Washington State timeout to stop the crowd from getting engaged.
Both teams entered a bit of an offensive slumber as Flowers wasn’t able to get open on the perimeter for the Cougars and no one else was able to step up. Meanwhile Washington struggled to penetrate Washington State’s interior defense as the Cougs blocked several Husky layup attempts and Fuller was called for a charge. Finally though the lid came off as Brown hit an and-1 midrange jumper to give Washington a lead. On the next possession Brown missed a layup but Roberts was there to put it back in and get fouled for another 3-point play putting UW up 40-36 with 14:46 remaining.
Brown made an incredibly tough baseline jumper after a few traded baskets to put the Huskies up 6 and the refs called a technical foul against walk-on Noah Neubauer on the bench. The broadcast never figured out what he did but it gave the Cougs 2 free points at the line.
Washington didn’t let that become a turning point though. After Washington State closed it to within 2, Emmitt Matthews Jr. hit a rainbow corner 3 to go back up 5. It certainly looked like Washington’s night when Nate Roberts was left wide open on the baseline shortly after and banked in a 17-foot jumper (pretty sure his farthest make of the season if not his career). Daejon Davis split a pair of free throws which gave UW their largest lead of the game at 60-51 with 7:35 left.
The Cougars had one last run left in them though. After a terrible 2nd half for the Cougars from the field they suddenly caught fire down the stretch. Washington State made 4 consecutive baskets including a trio of 3-point makes that slowly whittled down the lead within the final 2 and a half minutes. The last of those 3’s made it a one possession game at 71-68 with 1:10 remaining. Jamal Bey stayed calm and knocked down a pair of free throws to extend it back out to 5 but the Cougars answered right back with a pair of makes of their own with 38 seconds remaining.
Washington State tried to put on a full-court press but the Huskies were able to break out of it and Daejon Davis rocketed a pass up ahead to Emmitt Matthews Jr. who flushed it with aplomb to put on the exclamation point. The Cougs had a few more opportunities at the basket but never got another one to land and a few free throws cemented the 78-70 Husky win.
After an awful first half Terrell Brown Jr. finished the 2nd half 7/11 for 21 points to end up with a Husky high of 25. It was otherwise a balanced effort for the Dawgs who got at least 9 points from Davis (9), Roberts (9), Bey (13), and Matthews (15). Cole Bajema sat the 2nd half as the Huskies went with essentially just 6 guys (including PJ Fuller) in the 2nd half to not disrupt the mojo. Michael Flowers meanwhile cooled off (just a little) to finish 9/18 from the floor for 30 points while no other Cougar had more than 10.
Washington’s victory preserves their chances of avoiding the dreaded 8/9 game in the Pac-12 tournament which greatly steps up the quality of 1st round opponent and also means a 2nd round game against dominant Arizona. If the Huskies were able to upset one of UCLA or Oregon it would give them a shot to finish as high as 5th in the league standings which would mean a much sought after date with last place Oregon State. As long as Stanford loses at either Cal or Arizona State though it likely guarantees at least a 7th place finish.
With both Daejon Davis and Emmitt Matthews Jr. back in the lineup though it certainly raises the chances that the Huskies can pull off a magical run of some sort down the stretch.