Dominic Green scored 25 points on 7 made three-pointers – two short of a school record – and Washington led wire-to-wire, eventually beating the Eastern Washington Eagles 83-59 Tuesday night in front of an announced attendance of 6054 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The senior shooting guard took over the scoring load when Noah Dickerson wasn’t available to go for the first half. He wasn’t feeling well at the time, but the Huskies seemingly didn’t need him as Green scored 14 of his 25 before halftime.
Maybe it had to do with the fact that Green had his favorite pre-game meal: spaghetti and meatballs.
Even when he kept making shots, the Eagles never seemed to identify him.
“They’re not a bad team,” Green said after the game. “But I feel like they just fell asleep. I feel like sometimes coming in if I have a bad game before I’m not on the radar as much. When they’re all worried about Jaylen or Dave or Matisse, or even Noah because Noah is a great at passing out of the post – when they’re worried about them it lets me roam around to find the open spot.”
Jesse Hunt led all Eastern Washington (1-4) scorers with 15 points. They had five other players score at least six.
Dickerson came in to start the second half and clearly looked lethargic from the get-go, but he forced Hunt into two quick fouls.
Slowly but surely, Washington turned their 35-25 halftime advantage into a lead as big as 27 points after a Bryan Penn-Johnson free throw with 68 seconds to play.
But the real story of the night was Green, who showed he could be Washington’s next scorer behind Dickerson and Nowell – the two players they had been leaning on the most the first six games.
“It’s fun for everybody. When the ball pops, it’s fun to play. When the ball stops it’s not,” Washington Head Coach Mike Hopkins said. “We’ve got a lot of really good players. Tonight it was Dominic Green’s night. Tomorrow it might be Matisse (Thybulle). But they are threats.”
“When the ball is moving it can be anybody’s night,” said Crisp. “We have to stay unselfish.”
With Dickerson limited and the Huskies up 71-45, Hopkins subbed in Penn-Johnson, who saw his most extensive run of play so far this year. The true freshman center scored his first point as a Husky, and also added two rebounds and three blocked shots.
Fellow freshman Jamal Bey also scored his first points as a Husky via the charity stripe, ultimately scoring five points on five foul shots. He also came up with four rebounds in nearly 16 minutes of action.
Washington started off red-hot, making their first four three-point shots and pushing out to a lead as big as 18 after a Green bomb with 11:13 to play in the half gave UW a 24-6 advantage. By that point they had held Eastern scoreless for over five minutes.
Overall, UW shot 52 percent the first 20 minutes of the game, and 8-16 from beyond the arc.
But the Eagles would chip away, finally making a few three-pointers of their own. Back-to-back EWU threes with 7:44 to intermission elicited a quick time out and some pointed words by Hopkins to his team. It was all about remaining consistent in their play, even when everything seemed to be going their way.
“The key to anything in this game is you have to make adjustments,” said Hopkins. “The big thing I was concerned about in the first half, with really good shooter you can’t play (with your hands out). You’ve got to play with your hand out, contesting making them feel like there’s that…you’re in a haunted house and you go around a corner and that arm comes out at you! It’s a little bit different than (hands to your side). That’s like a wax museum. That’s not scary. Scary is when a hand comes out! You have to have that hand coming out, you have to be aggressive on it.
“I felt like yeah, we’re rolling. And the next thing you know… it only takes one. And one ends up being two and three. You have to learn to be consistent and it’s not to where you just get it right. You get it right all the time.”
On his strong performance…
“I always feel like I’m going to come out and help the team, but maybe just because I ate good today. I ate so good before and I felt loose, felt like it was popping, so I came out and performed.”
What was the pregame meal?
“My favorite thing ever: spaghetti. Spaghetti and meatballs.”
Did you feel like you were left open more often?
“Yeah. I don’t know. They seemed to suck in a lot on the drives, like when David (Crisp) penetrated, Jaylen (Nowell) or Matisse (Thybulle) so that really opened it up. They would turn their heads. When you see your man turn their head you have to relocate and I was just getting wide open shots and they were all from the same spot for some reason. It’s kind of weird. They did a good job finding me.”
On defending the three point arc…
“Some of the threes they shot were almost near the logo. On those ones we try to make them – try to bluff, try to make them second guess it. For the most part we just try to scramble, if somebody drives we match up so they don’t shoot threes and let the big guy play one on one. We would rather (have the other team) take a high post jump shot than a three pointer. He really emphasizes no threes so we try our best to stay up there.”
How hard did you have to work on finding open space?
“I feel like (Eastern Washington) just fell asleep. I feel like sometimes coming in, if I have a very bad game before I’m not really on the radar as much. When they’re all worried about Jaylen or Matisse or even Noah (Dickerson) – because Noah is great at passing out of the post – but when they’re worried about those guys, it just lets me roam around to find the open spot. Whenever somebody turns their head I just find a spot to get open where I know I can get a good shot.”
On different Huskies stepping up on any given night…
“We always talk about that. It could be – when the ball is moving it can be anybody’s night. We have to stay unselfish. We have to always make sure we’re playing good basketball, making the right plays. Drive in, the guy helps in, kick out to the open man. It’s easy. You saw that tonight. Driving in, Dominic (Green) was open, keep finding him. Everybody has to be unselfish and everybody is. That’s why we have nights like that, where Dom is hot and everybody is happy for him. Every shot and everybody is already on their feet waiting for it to go in. It’s definitely just keep putting that extra work after practice and just being ready, being locked in.”
When did you know Dominic Green was going to be hot?
“I don’t remember when he’s not hot. I’ve played with this dude since high school. I don’t ever think he’s going to miss. If he gets an open look it’s like a layup. He kept getting open looks and they didn’t make any adjustments and it’s like layups to him.”
Coach Mike Hopkins Quotes
“When you move the ball like that, it’s hard. They’re rotating out, they’re moving. Some they were in a zone, some they were in man, but our guys, just being aware. I felt like in some of our earlier games he had been open and we hadn’t found him. Tonight we found him. He’s a hell of a player and really made shots tonight. You have an opportunity where Noah (Dickerson) – Noah didn’t feel good, you kind of talk to him like ‘hey, do you want to play?’ He went out there, seven points and three rebounds in 11 minutes. That was pretty good. I think to get better moving forward it’s going to have to be that defense all the time. I think we got better. The ball popped, we made shots, where we have to get better is just unforced turnovers. We threw the ball away, unnecessary. That number 17 (turnovers) is not a good number. You have to own that ball. You have to value that ball.”
On having several contributors…
“It’s great. It’s fun for everybody. When the ball pops it’s fun to play. When the ball stops it’s not. The great thing about our team is we have a lot of really good players. Tonight it was Dominic Green, tomorrow it might be Matisse (Thybulle). They are all threats. The ball was popping and we made shots early. David (Crisp) made shots early. Jaylen Nowell got in the lane, he kicked out, he has that ability. He almost had a triple-double tonight. He rebounded, he pushed it, he found guys. That’s what a team is. The ball has to keep moving and it did tonight.”
On defending the three…
“The key to this game and everything you do is you just have to make adjustments. Certain guys are not shooters but they can get streaky. After they make two, you might have to change how you defend them. The big thing that I was concerned about in the first half and that we went over a lot in scout was really good shooters, you can’t play (with your hands at your side). You have to play with your hand out where you’re contesting and you make him feel like you’re in a haunted house and you go around a corner and that arm comes out at you. You have to have that hand coming out, you have to be aggressive on it. I just felt like we were like ‘oh yeah, we’re rolling’ and the next thing you know, it only takes one and one thing ends up being two and three. We have to learn to be consistent in that. It’s not just where you get it right, but where you get it right all the time.”
On getting more consistency from Dominic Green…
“I think if we get him good shots and he moves it, that’s great and it just goes back to like Noah. When you get Noah the ball and they guard him man to man, guess what? He’s going to score. He’s going to score and get fouled. Then they have to double team and then what? Then the other guys are going to be playing horse because they’re playing four versus three if we move without the ball and use space. Dom is the same thing. If they want to take him out, now our guys are playing four on four and spaces the floor. It helps Jaylen, it helps Naz (Carter), it helps Matisse, it helps Noah. Just him being on the floor with that ability is a great thing and he’s one of those guys – he doesn’t turn the ball over for the most part, he’s a great three point shooter, and he works exceptionally hard on defense. That guy is moving like no other. He’s a confident kid and I know our team has a lot of confidence in him. We just have to find him.”
Did Noah Dickerson impact the game?
“I think no question. He’s in my opinion the best big man in the conference. I wouldn’t take one other player that can score like him in the post. I don’t think there’s anybody that can do what he can do. For him to not feel well and come in and do what he did in that short period of time and not feeling great, it was great. We need him to be the team that we want to be and to reach our potential. He will be a huge factor.”
Post-Game Press Conferences