Washington returned home on Tuesday night following more than a week off after playing against San Diego State in a 100-97 OT loss. They came back against a different team from San Diego and found things slightly easier against UCSD. Washington scored 49 points in the second half to pull away from the Tritons for an 83-56 win to improve to 4-2 on the season. Keion Brooks Jr. led the Dawgs with an 18-point, 12-rebound double double.
Both teams got off to a brutally slow start to the game. Koren Johnson started in place of Paul Mulcahy, who missed the game with a finger injury, and turned it over on each of UW’s first possessions. Eventually, Washington was able to push the pace in transition as first Keion Brooks Jr. and then Moses Wood went coast to coast for layups to get the Huskies on the board and out to a 4-2 lead after the first several minutes.
The Huskies’ length clearly bothered UC San Diego as they made several nice backdoor cuts that were either blocked by a UW defender or by the rim. Braxton Meah entered the game and went up over the defense for a lob dunk from Brooks and also recovered for a volleyball spike block out of bounds. Koren Johnson pushed it ahead to Nate Calmese after a steal and he got a breakaway dunk to put the Dawgs up 13-5 and force a Tritons timeout.
Washington continued to pull away as Wheeler found Brooks in transition for a lob dunk and then Moses Wood finally knocked down a corner 3 on his 3rd wide open attempt of the game to extend the lead out to 20-7 with 9 minutes remaining.
UC San Diego went on their first 4-0 mini run of the game to close it back within single digits. Washington immediately answered though as Braxton Meah caught another lob dunk, this time from Wheeler, and then blocked a shot on the other end leading to a Keion Brooks midrange jumper.
At that point the game began to devolve into a foul-fest which did not help a game that already lacked much in the way of flow. Keion Brooks Jr. was called for goaltending following a foul that became an and-1 and once again pull UCSD within single digits just inside of 2 minutes remaining in the half. Washington’s offense went nearly 5 minutes in between baskets before a Keion Brooks Jr. putback following a pair of bad Anthony Holland missed 3’s in the final minute. UCSD’s leading scorer pulled up for a 3 at the buzzer though and UW only went into the break with a 34-24 lead.
Each team picked up their shooting by making a 3-pointer on their first possession. Koren Johnson swished it through from the corner for the Huskies. That didn’t continue. Sahvir Wheeler got to the line on consecutive possessions and made all 4 free throws but then Washington missed 3-pointers on four straight shot attempts. UC San Diego took advantage of all of the extra chances to eventually make a 3-pointer of their own and bring it to 41-30 at the under 16 timeout.
It looked like Washington finally hit another outside shot when Nate Calmese came off a Braxton Meah screen to knock down a shot. The ref right there originally called it a moving screen even though Meah very clearly wasn’t moving but the baseline official overrode that call after a review but they took the 3-pointer off the ball for a foul on the floor. Wheeler drew a foul on a layup attempt and then Meah did on the next possession so that the Huskies got into the bonus with 12+ minutes left and a 51-37 lead.
At that point Nate Calmese decided to put on a show for the crowd. Sahvir Wheeler whipped it ahead to him for what could’ve just been a runout layup but Calmese looked behind him and saw Braxton Meah trailing. He did not see the trailing Triton defender though and so when he passed it off the backboard he was very fortunate Meah had a 9 inch advantage on the defender and put down the poster slam.
Anthony Holland finally knocked down a 3-pointer with 8 and a half minutes left to give the Huskies their first 20+ point lead at 60-39. UCSD immediately answered with a corner 3 of their own to get it back below that threshold but Koren Johnson immediately negated it with his own shot from beyond the arc. Shortly after, Keion Brooks Jr. was given space to step right into a 3 of his own and the outside shot finally started to fall for the Huskies. Until of course Koren Johnson missed consecutive 3’s on the next possession. And then of course Sahvir Wheeler knocked one down after that.
The teams largely traded baskets over the final few minutes of the game and Washington’s lead ballooned to as many as 30 points following a Koren Johnson made 3 in transition.
Washington had 5 players in double digit scoring with 18 from Brooks, 17 from Wheeler (plus 8 assists and 6 rebounds), and 14 each from Koren Johnson and Braxton Meah. This was the best all-around game for Meah this season as he looks to be nearly back to full health following an offseason ankle injury. The center duo of Meah and Kepnang combined for 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 7/9 shooting against a vastly undersized UCSD squad.
Without Paul Mulcahy it left the ball in the hands of Wheeler almost all night and he delivered with 8 of the Huskies 15 assists against just 2 turnovers. The Dawgs gave up 12 offensive rebounds but came up with 19 of their own on the way to a dominating 54-34 win in the rebounding battle. Washington countered their terrible 3-point shooting (8/33 and at one point 2/16) with vastly improved free throw shooting (19/22).
The Huskies return to the court on Saturday at 4p in Las Vegas against a very dangerous Colorado State team that’s led by potential All-American PG Isaiah Stevens.