SEATTLE (AP) — Washington head coach Mike Hopkins had one simple New Year’s resolution: Have his team play a complete 40-minute effort.
The Huskies didn’t get his resolution off to a great start Tuesday night, but were able to string together enough to begin 2019 with a victory.
Jaylen Nowell scored 18 points and Noah Dickerson added 16 as Washington erased an eight-point halftime deficit to earn an 84-76 victory over Cal State Fullerton.
“I felt in the second half we wanted to be the aggressor,” Hopkins said.
Dominic Green knocked down a 3-pointer to break a tie at 66 with 3:36 remaining and spark a 10-2 Washington run.
The Titans opened the half on an 8-3 run to extend their lead to 50-37, their largest of the night, but the Huskies followed with a run of their own and tied the game at 55 on a David Crisp 3-pointer with 11:03 remaining. Kyle Allman Jr. tied it for the Titans at 66 with a pair of free throws before Green knocked down his second 3-pointer, and the Titans never got closer than five the rest of the way. Dickerson and Green flushed home back-to-back dunks in the final 40 seconds to help the Huskies close out the victory.
After settling for 3-pointers in the first half, and knocking down just 2 of 14, Washington was the aggressor in the second period, knocking down 14 of 16 free throws and creating 17 points off turnovers.
“Coming in to halftime, (Hopkins) definitely made a point of emphasis to not just be aggressive on offense, but on defense as well,” Nowell said.
Five players scored in double figures for the Huskies (9-4) as Matisse Thybulle scored 13, Crisp 11, and Green and Nahziah Carter each had 10.
“We had no flow, really,” Crisp said of Washington’s first half offense. “Once we found that flow, we started hitting shots.”
Nowell didn’t take his first shot until the 8:48 minute mark of the first half, but scored six of his eight first half points in the final two minutes of the period, and scored 10 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
Khalil Ahmad led the Titans (4-10) with 28 points, including five 3-pointers, and Jackson Rowe finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Rowe scored 13 points and Ahmad knocked down three 3-pointers to help Cal State Fullerton take a 42-34 halftime advantage.
Cal State Fullerton: The Titans will leave Seattle feeling like they let one slip away, but head into Big West Conference play having played one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country.
Washington: The Huskies haven’t looked pretty to end nonconference play but will have plenty to look forward to when they open up the conference slate against Washington State.
The Huskies played Saturday without forward Hameir Wright, who was nursing a sprained ankle. Wright has started seven games this season and is averaging three points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Hopkins said he will be ready to play when the Huskies face Washington State on Saturday.
HE SAID IT
“I’m sick of talking about. It seems like it’s the same type of story every game. We got to have better starts.”
-Hopkins on UW’s slow first half starts.
Cal State Fullerton: The Titans will open up Big West play with a trip across the ocean to Oahu to face Hawaii on January 9.
Washington: The Huskies will begin conference play by hosting in-state rival Washington State on Saturday.