Back in the first game against Arizona, the Huskies were right in it at the half and kept it close the entire game to only fall by 3 points. It looked like deja vu for 20 minutes as Washington trailed by a single bucket at the break. This time though Washington went out with a whimper as #6 Arizona went on a 20-4 run near the game’s end before putting in their backups and blew the doors off the Dawgs 95-72 dropping them to 13-10 (5-7) on the season.
Against Arizona State it took the Huskies more than 5 minutes to put the ball in the basket and had just 5 points after 10 minutes. A lack of scoring wasn’t an issue for Washington early. The Dawgs started out scorching hot from the 3-point line making 4 of their first 5 attempts from deep including a pair by Keyon Menifield. The second of those shots gave the Huskies a 20-11 lead with with 13:21 left in the 1st half.
The Wildcats immediately answered though as Kerr Kriisa hit a 3 as part of a 3/4 first half from deep. Brooks responded with an old fashioned 3-point play and kept the Husky lead at 9 but that’s the biggest it would get. Turnovers once again became Washington’s bane and they went more than 4 minutes before scoring another point. Arizona took advantage to go on a 9-0 run and tie the game up at 23 on a big-to-big lob from Azuolas Tubelis to Oumar Ballo.
Still, Washington didn’t let Arizona run away with it. Noah Williams made a 3-pointer from the exact same spot on the wing as Menifield and Bey had before him to retake the lead. Things went back and forth for a few possessions until the Huskies got a steal and Keyon Menifield missed a transition layup. Keion Brooks Jr. ran the floor with him and emphatically slammed it down on Kylan Boswell’s head to make it 30-25 and force an Arizona timeout.
The Wildcats answered with yet another 9-0 run after a pair of baskets by each team and it looked like they would enter halftime with a 2-possession lead. With the shot clock turned off Menifield looked at first like a floater was off target but it ended up a lob for Langston Wilson who dunked it just before the buzzer putting the Dawgs down 38-36 at the break.
Braxton Meah quickly picked up his 3rd foul after the 2nd half began but Mike Hopkins left him in the game knowing how critical he is to Washington’s chances. Keyon Menifield sparked a Husky run with a nice pass to Meah for a dunk and then going coast to coast for a transition layup to tie the game at 40. Washington took at 44-42 lead on another Meah dunk.
That’s when things completely fell apart for the Huskies. Arizona has never lost a game with Tommy Lloyd as head coach when Kerr Kriisa makes at least 30% of his 3-point attempts. Apparently Mike Hopkins never saw me tweet that earlier in the week. He consistently got open and went supernova making three 3’s over the next several minutes as the Wildcats stopped missing shots. He got up to 6/9 from deep before picking up his 4th foul and forcing Lloyd to put him on the bench. That was part of a 14-0 Arizona run to go up 56-44 and essentially put the game out of reach.
Washington’s offense regained their stride a little bit. Keion Brooks Jr. hit a pair of 3’s while Keyon Menifield had a few acrobatic layups inside amongst the trees. The problem though was that the Huskies couldn’t get a stop on defense and in the 5 minutes following the 14-0 run the Arizona lead grew by a point to 71-58 with 7:13 left as the Wildcats made 8 consecutive shots.
Keion Brooks came out of a timeout and hit another 3-pointer to pull the Dawgs within 10. After the Huskies secured a loose ball rebound Keyon Menifield pushed it in transition going into Kerr Kriisa’s chest for a layup attempt to cut it to single digits. But it didn’t go in and the refs refused to blow the whistle and give Kriisa his 5th. Instead Arizona answered and went on a 17-2 run, including Braxton Meah fouling out, to re-establish the big lead and end any thoughts of a Husky comeback.
Washington was led by Keion Brooks Jr.’s 25 points on 9/19 shooting with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks while Keyon Menifield finished with 21 points on 8/17 shooting plus 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Defense was the biggest problem for the Huskies though. Arizona scored a ridiculous 57 points in the 2nd half as Washington put forth about as much resistance as single ply tissue paper. Arizona finished 11/26 (42%) on 3-pointers and 23/39 (59%) on 2’s. The dynamic duo of bigs were spectacular for Arizona as Azuolas Tubelis had 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists while Oumar Ballo had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists on 9/9 shooting.
The Huskies now face 3 consecutive road games in which they’ll be substantial underdogs starting with UCLA on Thursday. If Washington wants any chance at finishing even 0.500 in conference play they have to find a way to win one of those 3 games in the next 2 weeks.