Both teams entered tonight’s game desperate with Stanford at 0-5 in Pac-12 play and Washington on a 5-game losing streak. After a slow start in the opening minutes the Husky offense finally revved into gear and never looked back in a blowout 86-69 victory. A total of 5 Dawgs finished with double digit scoring but more importantly 4 Huskies had 4+ assists sparked by the freshman guard duo of Menifield and Johnson. The win moves UW to 10-8 (2-5).
The beginning of the game was somehow both free flowing and disjointed. Neither team got off to a great offensive start but Stanford certainly made the better of it. Keion Brooks missed his first 3 shots before finally making a wing 3 to end a 7-0 Cardinal run at the start of the game. Stanford didn’t shoot well but had 5 offensive rebounds in the first 7 minutes to give themselves consistent second chance opportunities.
Still, the game kept moving without interruption as turnovers and fouls weren’t happening in the early going. The under-16 timeout didn’t get taken until 12:53 left when Stanford was called for their second foul on a Meah dunk attempt. He made both shots (the first two free throw attempts of the game) to bring the Huskies within a pair at 11-9. Washington attempted to put on a full court press and it almost worked but eventually Stanford got open for an easy dunk.
Washington started to realize though that Stanford had no answer at the rim for Meah. The big man got open for several lob dunks including an impressive and-1 finish on a lob from Fuller. Koren Johnson also made plays on both ends of the floor in his return to action after missing both games in Arizona. He picked a Stanford guard’s pocket then dished it to Fuller for a fast break dunk. Shortly after the Huskies pushed the ball and Johnson nailed a 3 prompting a Cardinal timeout. It ended up a 15-2 UW run to push the lead out to 26-17.
Stanford made a bit of a mini run to try to get back in it. Ryan Agarwal hit a deep 3-pointer and Washington threw away the resulting inbounds pass on a miscommunication. Harrison Ingram drove at Keion Brooks who was playing center with Braxton Meah getting a breather and suddenly the Cardinal were back within 31-25.
Koren Johnson took back over the game after that. He hit his second 3-pointer of the game and following a Brooks block got open in transition and converted the and-1 layup for a 6-0 run of his own. Shortly after Keyon Menfield drove for a layup and Washington led 39-25 at the under 4 timeout before the break.
The run continued as UW’s freshman guards wreaked havoc in the passing lanes. Koren Johnson and Keyon Menifield combined for 3 steals over the last 3 minutes of the half that resulted in 4 points. It likely would’ve been 6 but the last of them came with 4 seconds left and Menifield rushed a layup attempt to beat the buzzer that would’ve been easy with more time.
Ultimately the Huskies finished out the half on a 47-22 run after Hop’s initial timeout call with 13 assists on 58% shooting (including 15 of their last 19). Menifield, Johnson, Brooks, and Meah all had at least 8 points at the half led by Meah’s 11 on 4/4 shooting (how’s that for efficiency?) plus 5 boards and 3 blocks.
OH MY WASHINGTON!!! @UW_MBB pic.twitter.com/EcrhMHkuzr— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) January 13, 2023
Stanford’s offense finally started to pick up after the break particularly with their long-range shooting. The Cardinal made a trio of 3’s in the first 5 minutes of the half on the way to make 4 of their first 8 shots. They couldn’t solve things on the defensive end though as UW kept pace behind a pair of Bajema 3’s (including a bank shot which Cole did not call but still counted). The Huskies made their first 5 shots of the half. Clearly Stanford coach Jerod Haase didn’t like the energy he saw and called for a full 5-man hockey substitution pulling all his starters before the 16 minute mark.
But Ryan Agarwal had been on the bench and putting him back in the game was a good thing for Stanford. He made another deep 3 (his 3rd) to complete a quick 6-0 run and get Stanford within 60-46 as Hop called a timeout to stop the momentum. That move worked as the Huskies countered with a quick 7-0 run of their own to go up by more than 20 points for the first time. It was capped off by Keion Brooks finding an open Koren Johnson in the corner who swished the 3-pointer through.
Washington started to get a little careless with the ball likely due to the big lead as the turnovers began to mount. Stanford though was unable to capitalize as the Cardinal went 5 and a half minutes in between made field goals. A loose ball scrum resulted in a bouncing orange projectile which eventually made its way into Cole Bajema’s hands at the 3-point line. He pump faked as a defender flew past then calmly sank the 3 to put UW up 72-48 and a game high lead at 24 points.
Stanford kept fighting though (sometimes literally as the game got a little chippy). The refs completely blew what should’ve been an offensive foul against Agarwal but instead was Koren Johnson’s 4th and the resulting free throw brought the Cardinal to within 16. After a Husky missed 3, Stanford came down and hit a floater to bring it to within 14 for the first time since before the half.
Stanford bizarrely committed 3 intentional fouls in a row to get them from 3 to 6 with 90 seconds left but then stopped instead of trying to prolong the game. Fuller blew by his guy and sank the layup to end the run and on the next possession lobbed it to Meah for his 8th dunk of the night and remove all doubt. Meah also made a pair of free throws to set a career high 21 points.
The night was filled with superlative performances. To go along with Meah’s career high in points he also added 9 rebounds and 5 blocks. Keion Brooks started slow but ended up with a 19 point, 11 rebound double double plus another 3 blocks. Keyon Menifield’s scoring slowed down in the 2nd half but had 11 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals playing with effort on both ends. Koren Johnson had perhaps the most impressive night of all with 15 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals coming off the bench.
Washington kept the rotation tight as we didn’t see either Jackson Grant or Langston Wilson given that no Huskies were remotely in foul trouble until the closing minutes. Noah Williams started each half but ended up playing the least of any of the 4 guards as his only contributions to the box score were 1 rebound and 1 turnover. On the wings Bajema had 11 points while Bey had only 3 but added 4 assists.
Overall, the Husky offense shot 9/23 on 3’s (39%) and had 20 assists on their 33 makes. On the defensive end UW finished with 9 blocks while Stanford shot just 9/29 (31%) from deep. It should be noted though that the Cardinal were reliably able to generate open corner 3’s against the zone but just could not find any rhythm making shots.
The Dawgs will hope to be able to keep the newfound good vibes rolling on Saturday as they host 3-13 (2-4) California in a game that overlaps with the Seahawks playoff game. That should be good for attendance.