All season, Washington has allowed opponents to hang around.
It’s a familiar script by now: The Huskies go on a run, build a lead and then their intensity fades. By the time they pick it back up again, their advantage has dwindled or disappeared.
It seemed like UW was going to put an end to that trend during its 70-62 victory over Seattle University on Sunday night.
After going into halftime with a 41-34 lead, the Huskies opened the second half on a 13-2 run that stretched their advantage to 54-36 with 15:16 remaining. They outscored Seattle 17-4 over the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But then, just after UW pulled ahead 58-38, it happened. Seattle rallied back, outscoring the Huskies 24-6 during an eight minute span to pull within two points, 64-62, with 1:24 remaining.
“I just feel like it’s the old Del Taco commercials,” head coach Mike Hopkins said afterward. “Same play, same play. Same thing, same thing.”
UW closed the game on a 6-0 run to hold on for the win, but it wasn’t the convincing victory the Huskies seemed to be heading toward. And the problem? Well, it’s not complicated, at least according to seniors David Crisp and Matisse Thybulle.
“Lack of focus, lack of effort,” Thybulle said. “It’s a simple fix.”
The Huskies built their advantage by limiting Seattle’s drive and kick opportunities. But midway through the second half, UW stopped keeping the Redhawks out of the lane. And that, Crisp said, made all the difference.
“Guys were getting in the paint, dumping off to guys down low,” Crisp said. “Just no effort there. When there’s effort there, those things won’t happen.”
Both Thybulle and Crisp were blunt with their analysis of of how, after building a game-high 20-point lead in the second half, UW allowed the Redhawks to claw their way back into the game.
“We thought the game was over,” Thybulle said. “We just kind of mailed it in. We didn’t treat them with the respect that we treated them with to get that lead and then they came back.”
Hopkins was hopeful the Huskies’ stellar second half from its 81-79 loss to Gonzaga on Wednesday would carry over into Sunday’s game.
It did for a while. But then Huskies got careless with the ball. They started rushing, taking bad shots — and they let all of that affect them defensively. The Redhawks took advantage, like most teams would.
“There’s a different type of poise in a game like this than at Gonzaga,” Hopkins said. “It felt like we rushed it, we panicked. We never do well when we do that.”
After losing the energy they played with early, Crisp said it was difficult for the Huskies to find it again coming down the stretch. They did enough to get the victory, but they never reached the same level of play.
“You turn down the effort,” Crisp said, “it’s hard to flip the switch.”
Jaylen Nowell led the way with 18 points. Noah Dickerson added 13 point and six rebounds, while Crisp and Dominic Green each added 11. The Huskies will face No. 15 Virginia Tech in the Atlantic City Boardwalk Classic on Saturday.
“We just got sloppy, that’s just the bottom line,” Hopkins said. “We have to do a lot better job. We have to have more respect than that in terms of the game.”