Washington played a close one against their cross-city foes last season and unfortunately this one was tighter than expected yet again. The Dawgs held a double digit lead in each half but the Seattle Redhawks were within 2 points with under 2 minutes to play before UW hit their free throws late and held on by a score of 70-62.
Seattle has been one of the best shooting teams in the country early in this season and they demonstrated why right off the bat as the Redhawks hit a pair of 3’s over Hamer Wright in the first 2 minutes. But Jaylen Nowell remained calm and scored the first 5 of an 8-0 run which put Washington in front by a count of 10-7.
Both teams shot the ball well over the first 10 minutes but the Huskies couldn’t pull away due to some trademark sloppiness and the game was tied at 16 after 9 minutes. Washington finally started to get some stops while the hot shooting continued thanks to the best ball movement I’ve seen from the team all season (4/5 to start from beyond the arc). A Naz Carter 3 following a kickout from a double-teamed Noah Dickerson pushed the lead to 26-18.
David Crisp scored a quick 5 points but then in trademark fashion took the success as a green light and was 0-2 with a turnover on the next 3 offensive possessions although a Jaylen Nowell putback and Hameir Wright diving to force a jump ball prevented complete disaster.
With under 2 minutes left in the half the Huskies led by 11 and it appeared they would pull away for a potential 15+ point halftime lead. But the officiating took a sketchy turn as Dominic Green was called for a questionable foul closing out on a 3-point shot and the Redhawks made all 3 freebies. Green made up for it on the other end by hitting a corner 3. Washington got the ball with about 35 seconds left and tried to play for nearly the last shot as Jaylen Nowell drove then pulled up for a midrange jumper. He was clearly smacked on the arm but the refs didn’t call it and instead T’d up Coach Hopkins for arguing the recent calls. Seattle made both free throws then hit a runner at the buzzer to bring it to just 7 at 41-34 at the half.
Nowell led all scorers at halftime with 12 points and the Huskies held a 11-0 lead in 2nd chance points as well as a 20-2 lead in bench points. The latter wasn’t a surprise since Seattle plays its bench among the fewest minutes in the country and UW required some bench help with Noah Dickerson banged up and Matisse Thybulle in foul trouble.
Seattle got the opening basket to start the 2nd half but from there UW absolutely put on the clamps. The Huskies got some steals to get out in transition and Nowell and Dickerson got a couple baskets out of the pick and roll which contributed to a 10-0 run in the next 3.5 minutes after that 1st possession of the half. The lead continued to balloon punctuated by a Matisse Thybulle drive and tomahawk jam which brought the house down. And Washington was up by 20 at 58-38 with 13:57 left in the game and it appeared that the game was all but over.
At least that’s what the Huskies appeared to think. For a while the defense continued their stellar play but the offense completely stagnated. Here were the next 7 UW possessions: Nowell missed jumper, Thybulle missed 3, Thybulle turnover, Naz Carter missed jumper, Green missed 3, Crisp missed jumper, and Green missed 3. And yet with 9 minutes to go the Dawgs were still up by 17.
However, Seattle finally started to make shots while the Huskies continued to be ice cold. Seattle went on a 14-2 run to cut the lead down to 8 with 4:53 remaining including 9 points in that span by Morgan Means. Jaylen Nowell finally countered by making an acrobatic and-1 basket (but missed the FT) that extended the lead to double digits and it seemed that order may have been restored.
But the Redhawks just kept coming and consecutive baskets by Morgan Means plus another couple makes by others closed the lead to just 2 points at 62-60 with 2:04 to go. Noah Dickerson made a trademark Noah Dickerson basket with some nifty post moves but Seattle’s big man Myles Carter answered down low on the other end and it was still a 2 point margin. Washington avoided disaster as David Crisp easily could’ve been called for a charge but instead the refs made it a no call and Dominic Green picked up the loose ball and put it back in to go up 66-62 with 1:03 left and Coach Hopkins called a timeout to set the defense.
It worked, as Hameir Wright came up with a block down low and the Huskies retained possession. David Crisp was fouled with 21 seconds left and made both to push the UW lead to 6 and clinch the game. Jaylen Nowell would make a pair of his own after a UW steal to push the score to the final of 70-62.
Nowell led the Huskies in scoring with 18 points while David Crisp, Dominic Green, and Noah Dickerson all ended up in double figures. Morgan Means was the star for Seattle and led all scorers with 21 points including 13 points in the final 9 minutes of the 2nd half
Washington’s next game is massive as they’ll play Virginia Tech in Atlantic City on Saturday night. It is the Huskies’ last opportunity to secure a premium non-conference win before Pac-12 play starts and an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament is going to be hard to come by without it.
Double Bonus Thoughts
- Noah Dickerson played with a big knee brace on and it was clear from the jump that he was a little gimpy. After going to the ground following a foul in the 1st half he waved for Timmins to come in and was limping badly. He toughed through it and finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds. It was interesting to see that the lack of mobility meant that Coach Hopkins had Hameir Wright start out guarding the corner while Dickerson played center in the zone. UW won’t be able to get away with that against Virginia Tech so hopefully he makes some big strides in the next 6 days.
- Noah’s health became a bigger issue when in addition to his brace, Bryan Penn-Johnson showed up wearing a walking boot. The team announced he has a stress fracture and will miss at least 6 weeks. You never want to see foot injuries with big men and let’s hope he makes a full recovery but he struggled with injuries in high school and this isn’t a great sign. With fellow true freshmen Nate Roberts and Riley Sorn redshirting it means that Washington is once again left with only Noah, Hameir Wright, and Sam Timmins down low to work with. If one of them were to miss serious time then it would submarine the season.
- Jamal Bey is the only true freshman both not hurt and not redshirting and continues to get some minutes. He made his first career field goal on a nice and-1 although he missed the FT.
- Dickerson’s passing was by far the best it has been this season. 3 times in the 1st half he passed back out of the impending double team immediately and it resulted in wide open 3-point looks. In one of them all 5 players touched the ball as the Dawgs passed it hot potato style around the perimeter and Green nailed a corner 3.
- Washington’s ball movement was fantastic in the 1st half and it led to UW nailing a bunch of wide open 3’s as they went 6/9 from outside. In the 2nd half the ball movement wasn’t the same and they just flat out missed open looks as the team was 0/8 from deep. The 35.3% overall beyond the arc is still better than their season average but if they had made their wide open looks it wouldn’t have gotten close at the end.
- Coach Hopkins will be furious that yet again the Huskies took their foot off the gas pedal after going on a huge run to take a big lead. This team for whatever reason just can’t play a full 40 minutes. But they’re going to need to against Virginia Tech on Saturday night. Hop scheduled a challenging non-conference slate and it was clear that UW would be in good shape if they could at least go 3-3 in their 6 biggest games. Right now they’re 2-3 and with the Pac-12 struggling so badly this win appears borderline essential unless the Huskies go something like 14-4 in conference play if they want to get into the NCAA tournament without securing the automatic bid.
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