SEATTLE (AP) — Throughout his first season in charge at Washington, Mike Hopkins has searched for signs the Huskies are progressing forward. Little moments to prove the system being implemented is successful.
Washington’s improvement has outpaced what most expected and is why the Huskies are in the conversation for an NCAA tournament bid entering the final stretch of the regular season.
But the latest challenge for Hopkins’ team is recovering from a loss unlike any other this season.
Washington (17-8, 7-5 Pac-12) is coming off a stunning double overtime loss to Oregon State last Saturday on a 3-pointer in the final seconds and after blowing a double-digit lead in the second half. It’s the kind of setback that for the moment hasn’t damaged Washington’s NCAA hopes, but could end up being critical, depending on how the final few weeks play out. And it’s the kind of loss the Huskies have yet to experience with Hopkins in charge.
Washington hasn’t lost more than two games in a row at any point this season and will need to beat Utah on Thursday night at home to avoid its first three-game losing streak. At various times this season, Hopkins’ group has displayed surprising resilience. But few have stung like the loss to the Beavers.
”Every game matters now. Every game has mattered from day one. The difference is everybody is talking about the tournament and all these other things. That’s just interference,” Hopkins said on Wednesday. ”You’ve got to focus on what you can control.”
Getting swept last week by the Oregon schools was a disappointing thud after the Huskies were the talk of the Pac-12 following home wins over Arizona State and an upset of then-No. 9 Arizona. The wins over the Arizona schools vaulted the Huskies into the NCAA tournament field according to most bracket projections.
But the massive swing of elation after a home sweep, to the disappointment of losing twice on the road was another example of where Washington is the first season under Hopkins. They’ve been one of the best defensive teams in the Pac-12 for most of the season, but allowed 97 points to Oregon State. They’ve been good enough on offense to outscore Arizona and Southern California for victories, but managed just 40 points in the loss to Oregon.
”For the most part I think our consistency with how we’ve approached winning and losing is kind of the same thing of, ‘How do we get better?”’ Hopkins said. ”Not too high, not too low. Just trying to get them to understand that with championship programs you expect to win every game and there’s more consistency emotionally and basketball wise.”
Washington’s schedule the rest of the season could both benefit and hamper its NCAA hopes. Washington will play four of its final six conference games at home, beginning with Utah, followed by Colorado on Saturday. The games this weekend are critically important as the Utes (No. 60) and Buffaloes (No. 62) are the two highest rated teams in the RPI remaining on the Huskies’ schedule. Aside from winning at Stanford next week, the games with Utah and Colorado are the best opportunity for Washington to boost its metric evaluation prior to the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas in March.
”The focus is on a whole other level right now, just really getting guys to really buy in,” guard David Crisp said. ”We’ve got these last few games coming up and if everybody is together, locked in, take every practice with laser focus, pay attention to all the small details, then we’ll be in great position.”
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SEATTLE (AP) — As the pile of celebrating bodies grew, Washington’s Dominic Green started to get uneasy. He’d never been in the situation of celebrating a game-winning basket like this, let alone where he was the one hitting the shot.
”I was really nervous,” Green said. ”Just because something like that had never happened, so it gave me the butterflies.”
Green was at the center of Washington’s raucous celebration on Saturday night after his 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Huskies a 78-75 upset of No. 9 Arizona.
Washington went to freshman Jaylen Nowell with the clock winding down, but his shot was blocked by Arizona star Deandre Ayton. Green grabbed the swatted shot near the Washington bench and beat the buzzer with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to cap a huge week for Washington’s improving NCAA tournament chances.
”When he shoots, I think it’s going in. In that moment, there’s a lot of stuff going on. It left his hand and your body is trying to spiritually put it in the hole and when you see it, it’s just like pure mayhem,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said.
Green finished with 14 points off the bench and the biggest shot of his career as the Huskies (17-6, 7-3 Pac-12) knocked off ranked teams at home back-to-back. The Huskies beat No. 25 Arizona State on Thursday.
Lost in the mayhem around Green’s shot was possibly the best game of Noah Dickerson’s career. Despite being undersized against the Arizona duo of Ayton and Dusan Ristic, Dickerson finished with a game-high 25 points and at times was Washington’s only offensive option.
Ristic scored 21 points for Arizona (19-5, 9-2) and Allonzo Trier had 17 of his 20 in the second half. Ayton was a force on the inside with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, but missed a free throw with 21 seconds left that would have given Arizona the lead.
Arizona had won 16 of 17 and eight straight against Washington. Arizona coach Sean Miller was unhappy with the defensive effort.
”Their offense was too good for our defense and I would just sum it up like that,” Miller said.
Nowell has been the main option for Washington in the closing seconds of close games this season and he was able to get into the lane, but Ayton was there to block the attempt. Green had been deadly when given open looks all night and was unmarked on the wing after the defense had collapsed. Emmanuel Akot made a late attempt to get a hand in Green’s face, but the shot was already gone, setting off a raucous celebration that included students storming the court.
”I just knew I was going to get it up as quick as I can,” Green said. ”I knew there was only two or three seconds left.”
Washington played inspired from the start and led by as many as 14 early in the second half.
A run by Arizona felt inevitable and it finally arrived. Parker Jackson-Cartwright got to the rim on a second-chance opportunity and his three-point play pulled Arizona even at 61-all with 7:05 left. Ayton’s jumper on Arizona’s next possession pushed the Wildcats in front for the first time and the teams exchanged the lead six more times over the next three minutes.
Green’s corner 3 with 1:19 left pulled the Huskies even at 73-all. It turned out not to be the most important 3-pointer he’d make.
”Dom made a legendary play for Husky basketball,” Hopkins said.
Current Arizona assistant coach Lorenzo Romar made his first return to Washington, where he was the head coach for 15 seasons before being fired last March following a 9-22 season. Romar was greeted with a standing ovation and chants of ”Romar” when he took the court with the rest of the Arizona coaching staff minutes before tipoff. Washington also showed a brief video of Romar’s accomplishments during pregame introductions.
Arizona: The Wildcats inability to get anything from behind the 3-point line was huge. Arizona was 2 of 12 on 3s after entering the game shooting 40 percent from deep.
Washington: The Huskies employed a similar defensive strategy to their win over Kansas in December. Washington was willing to let the Wildcats shoot 15-footers but challenged 3-point attempts and shots down low. The strategy worked in the first half when the Wildcats shot just 36 percent. But Ayton started knocking down the free-throw line jumpers in the second half to help the Wildcats rally.
Arizona: The Wildcats return home to face UCLA next Thursday.
Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon next Thursday
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SEATTLE (AP) — Former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar says it will be ”weird” walking into the Huskies’ home gym as the opponent for the first time.
He’ll go to the visitors’ locker room and not the coaches’ offices. He’ll sit on the bench at the opposite end of the floor he patrolled for 15 seasons as the head coach at his alma mater. The student section directly behind him – once affectionately called ”Romarville” – will be chanting and berating the opposing team he helps coach.
Perhaps most difficult for Romar, now an assistant for No. 9 Arizona, will be watching players he recruited facing off against the Wildcats.
”It’s not going to be easy to go back there,” Romar said in a phone interview this week. ”The No. 1 thing is we’re fighting for a conference championship and that’s the No. 1 focus.
”Those guys are like your sons that you’re competing against. The ‘Dawg Pack,’ we were teammates. Who knows what they’re going to do. It’s just going to be weird.”
Romar was 298-196 in his career at Washington since arriving in 2002. There were three Sweet 16 appearances and two outright conference titles. But six straight years of missing the NCAA tournament finally became Romar’s downfall. He was fired last March after going 9-22.
Romar was responsible for reinvigorating a downtrodden program and developing the Huskies into a perennial Pac-12 contender with a long list of NBA talent shuffling through the program.
Romar was a beloved figure at Washington, for his winning ways and demeanor.
”People will be happy to see him. I think this city misses him and I know a couple of us do,” Washington guard Matisse Thybulle said. ”He was loved around here. But at the end of the day, it’s about basketball.”
Romar was out of work just a few weeks before Arizona coach Sean Miller called him. Romar considered head coaching jobs in other locations, assistant jobs and working in television. Romar’s preference was to not take a job in the Pac-12 so he could avoid matchups with Washington. But when Miller beckoned, Romar realized this was the right job.
”Sean called me two weeks after I was fired and during those two weeks, you don’t have a job and you’re thinking you may not have a job,” Romar said. ”I didn’t like that. I didn’t like sitting around. So this situation here at Arizona made the most sense.”
Romar said the transition from head coach to an assistant again – for the first time since the 1995-96 season – has been seamless. And he insisted while there may be a brief opportunity to visit with old friends between practice, film preparation and perhaps a little recruiting – this trip back is all business.
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SEATTLE (AP) — Another chance for Washington to prove its validity was also another moment where the flaws of No. 25 Arizona State were shown.
Perhaps it time the Huskies started to get a bit of the recognition as the surprise of the Pac-12.
Noah Dickerson scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, David Crisp had three key baskets in the final five minutes, and Washington knocked off No. 25 Arizona State 68-64 on Thursday night.
The Huskies (16-6, 6-3 Pac-12) continue to defy their preseason expectations when they were picked to finish 10th in the conference. There’s still plenty of time for the Huskies to falter, but their late-game performances are more reminiscent of a team bound for the postseason.
The most recent example came in the final minutes against the Sun Devils when Dickerson and Crisp combined to score 12 of Washington’s final 16 points. Dickerson was dominant on the interior all night, and Crisp found ways to split the defense and get to the basket in the closing moments to help the Huskies win their third straight.
”You hope that all the training that you give your guys and the mindset is going to go out there and do it. And we did it,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. ”We made our foul shots down the stretch. We took away the 3-point shot. Guys stepped up and made big plays.”
Crisp finished with 12 points, while Jaylen Nowell added 15 points and nine rebounds. Dickerson carried the Huskies in the first half and had 13 points and 11 rebounds before the break.
”I see all the work he’s put in and he’s just a real ambitious guy and he’s always looking to get better,” Crisp said of Dickerson. ”As you can see he’s worked day in and day out.”
But the Huskies got little contributions from everyone. Matisse Thybulle finished with six steals and hit three 3-pointers despite being sick. Dominic Green hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left to clinch the victory. And Sam Timmins made one of the biggest plays forcing a turnover by deflecting Mickey Mitchell’s pass in the final seconds when Arizona State was unable to get a shot off trailing 66-64.
Kodi Justice led Arizona State (16-6, 4-6) with 16 points, but the Sun Devils were just 5 of 19 on 3-point shooting. The 64 points were a season-low for the Sun Devils. Shannon Evans II added 13 points but was 1 of 7 on 3-pointers. Tra Holder finished with 12.
The Sun Devils were just 1 of 10 on 3s in the first and their 5 of 19 performance overall from deep was second-worst this season.
”You can’t play this come from behind style, especially on the road,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. ”You put so much energy into getting this lead, but games are won and lost at all different parts of the game.”
After a miserable first half, the Sun Devils quickly made it a game in the opening moments of the second half. A 12-2 run pulled Arizona State even at 39-all, but the Sun Devils didn’t take their first lead until Justice’s 3-pointer with 7:28 remaining to go ahead 51-50.
Crisp made his biggest offensive contributions in the final minutes, twice splitting a potential double-team and scoring in the lane. Dickerson added a basket to give the Huskies a 66-62 lead, but Holder’s driving basket with 59 seconds left pulled the Sun Devils within two.
Washington went to Nowell, but he was called for an offensive foul with 36.5 seconds left giving the ball back to the Sun Devils. Arizona State was unable to get a shot off on the ensuing possession as a scattered offensive set led to Timmins deflecting Mitchell’s pass. Green’s free throws put the game away.
Arizona State: It was the fifth straight week the Sun Devils have lost the first game of a two-game weekend set in conference play. Arizona State previously lost at Colorado, at home to Oregon, at Stanford and home against to Utah to open the weekend. Each time the Sun Devils have rebounded to win the second-game of the set.
Washington: Thybulle moved into first place on the school’s single-season steals record after grabbing six steals. He now has 70 on the season, topping the previous record of 67 held by Bryant Boston. … Dickerson’s 16 rebounds were his second-most this season. He had a career-high 22 in a November win over Eastern Washington.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils are at Washington State on Sunday.
Washington: The Huskies host No. 9 Arizona on Saturday.
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SEATTLE (AP) — Mike Hopkins is frantically scrolling through the photo album on his phone. Stored deep in the collection of screen shots, aerial images from his many plane trips and family pictures is an image that helps define what he’s trying to build in his first season as Washington’s head coach.
It’s a picture of a quote. And it has a connection to his favorite band, Pearl Jam.
”When you trust people that you work with and let them have their freedom, that’s when the chemistry happens. That’s when the real art goes down,” Hopkins reads, looking at the photo of a quote attributed to Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament.
Building chemistry. Forming the foundation. Those are the underlying principles of what Hopkins has done in the 10 months since he left all he knew at Syracuse for the chance to turn around the Huskies’ program. It’s one of the most surprising stories in college basketball. The Huskies are 15-6 overall and 5-3 in Pac-12 play with a huge week coming up against No. 25 Arizona State and No. 9 Arizona that will go a long way in determining Washington’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
Any talk about the NCAAs seemed ridiculous when the Huskies gathered for their first practice in the fall. Now it’s a realistic goal entering February.
The Associated Press was given an inside look at the Huskies program last week as they prepared for their matchup with rival Washington State. What stands out most about Hopkins’ first season is how the narrative has changed. Six months ago, most were wondering why Hopkins left Syracuse as the coach-in-waiting behind Jim Boeheim.
Now, the story has become about the foundation Hopkins has created and where might the Huskies go from here.
”We set our goals real high,” Washington guard David Crisp said. ”We know the work that we’ve put in every day. For it to have something come true, one of your goals, it feels good to have that hard work pay off.”
Before every home practice, the signs are affixed to a wall or railing. They are foundational pillars for Hopkins’ program. They are not subject to debate.
”Be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
”Multiple effort mentality.”
”Own the ball.”
”Always moving forward.”
There are more than a dozen in all, placed at each end of the floor. The last may be the most important to Hopkins. This is a program that’s endured its lumps in recent seasons, going from a perennial Pac-12 contender to missing the NCAAs for six straight seasons. Hopkins had to win over his players upon his arrival, recruiting them to stay then proving what he was selling works.
”This is all really a test tube thing,” Hopkins said. ”I’m bringing what I’ve learned. We’ve got an established staff that has a lot of experience. We talk a lot and try to figure out how can we make that better. And even when I got the job I thought of the old BASF commercials, ‘We don’t make the products, we make the products you buy better.’ So how can we evolve and grow and do things different?”
On this day, it means running practice in an entirely different way. Hopkins puts 60 minutes on the clock. It will continue to tick away, but errors or lack of effort will add time. One of Hopkins’ assistants came up with the idea. Generally, Washington practices aren’t long – 75 to 120 minutes depending on the day – but this was a new take.
Hopkins finds a few flaws and time is added. When freshman Michael Carter III fails to run the correct set, five minutes are added. Hopkins voices his displeasure, but stops to instruct Carter and leaves him with a high-five.
It’s one of the few times Hopkins inserts himself into practice. He lets his assistants – Dave Rice, Cameron Dollar and Will Conroy – coach. There’s no micromanaging.
”I wanted to hire people I felt I could learn from, guys that would be better than me in other areas and then be like any team,” Hopkins said. ”We’re all learning from each other.”
Ninety minutes before tip-off Hopkins invites the broadcast crew into his office. It’s a relaxed environment in a room that is decidedly bland. The only items hanging on the walls are a giant purple ”W” behind his desk and the TV tuned into one of the dozens of games being broadcast this day.
If this seems abnormal, it is. Washington has done away with game day shootaround. Hopkins values rest over having players going to the arena, getting geared up and going through a simulated practice only to do that again to get ready for the game. The team meets for film and a meal the night before games, but doesn’t reconvene until the pregame meal a few hours before tip.
At least his second cup of Starbucks sits on his desk with ‘Hop’ written in black ink. This crew hasn’t done a Washington game yet this season, so much of the session is Hopkins describing his philosophy, the implementation of that system and ultimately why the Huskies are in the Pac-12 race.
Hopkins is himself: laughing, gregarious, honest. He points to wins over Kansas and Southern California on the road as validating moments, but notes the Huskies have faltered after those big wins. A sign of growth would be beating the Cougars after last week’s road win at Colorado.
Two mint candies sit on the scorer’s table at all times. Spearmint to be exact. If one gets taken, it’s immediately replaced. Occasionally, a different hard candy will be grabbed by Hopkins or a member of his staff, but it’s almost always a mint.
For two hours, Hopkins will cycle through his stash of mints while directing the Huskies to a convincing 80-62 win over their rivals from Washington State. There have been times this season when Hopkins has needed to yell at his players. This night is not one of them.
The only time he screams is when he’s raining praise in a timeout huddle after two perfect possessions of ball rotation on offense led to open shots. They were part of an 18-2 run Washington used to close the first half. After Noah Dickerson’s dunk to give Washington a 31-28 lead, Hopkins turns to the Huskies student section and yells, ”Let’s go,” asking for more noise, knowing the Cougars are rattled.
The student section was once named after former coach Lorenzo Romar. It may be named after Hopkins soon enough.
His evening ends with him summoning walk-ons off the bench. He takes note that three of Washington State’s six 3-pointers came in the final minutes with reserves in the game. He finds a moment after he finishes his postgame radio duties to shake hands with a fan wearing a Syracuse hat.
”It’s everything I always thought it would be, and even better,” Hopkins said. ”That’s not because our record or wins and losses, but experience. … It feels great to be stretched, and challenged and pulled. It’s been incredible.”
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SEATTLE (AP) — Daejon Davis was still in his Stanford uniform nearly 45 minutes later, signing autographs for the handful of kids still lingering around seeking out the former Seattle high school star.
There were good reasons for the kids to wait for Davis after a memorable first college trip back to his hometown.
”It was amazing. It was everything that I imagined. I wanted to come in here and get a win, (and) we did it,” Davis said.
Davis, a one-time Washington commit, had 16 points, Reid Travis also finished with 16 points, and Stanford completed its first two-game road sweep in conference play in nearly eight years with a 73-64 win over Washington on Saturday night.
The Cardinal (10-8, 4-1 Pac-12) had not won both games of a Pac-12 road trip since sweeping the Oregon schools in February 2010. Stanford raced past Washington State on Thursday and took advantage of offensive struggles by Washington to pull away for its fourth straight victory.
”It’s a big deal for us to have the confidence now to know we can go on the road and win some games,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. ”We did a lot of things that are necessary. We still have room for improvement – free throws and making some silly plays and turnovers – but more importantly we did a lot of positive things.”
Davis was the star, playing a few miles from where he was a prep standout at Garfield High School and on the court he was originally slated to play collegiately. Davis de-committed from Washington after Lorenzo Romar was fired last March and instead ended up at Stanford.
Davis was the subject of boos and chants from Washington fans throughout, but he silenced those same fans hitting a 3-pointer with 3:23 left to push Stanford’s lead to 65-60. It was his only 3 of the game, and Davis added 10 rebounds and five assists. He did have seven turnovers.
”You can say it’s not a big deal for him to come home, but it is,” Travis said. ”We see how many people are in the crowd for him. We hear what they’re chanting at him when he’s at the free-throw line. We wanted to get this win as much for him so he could come back home and have a good showing.”
Michael Humphrey had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Kezie Okpala added 10 points for the Cardinal.
Jaylen Nowell, high school teammates with Davis, led Washington (13-5, 3-2) with 20 points and David Crisp added 11. The Huskies were unable to overcome long scoreless stretches in both halves and were outrebounded 48-28.
”Offensively we’re not going to win a lot of games shooting those percentages,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. ”I don’t know if it was lack of execution, missing open shots, one of those days, we’re going to have to go back and look at the tape.”
Stanford had double-digit leads in both halves, including a 13-point lead with 8:40 remaining after Okpala’s two-handed dunk down the lane. They nearly gave it all away as the Huskies scored 11 of the next 13 points and pulled within 60-56 on Crisp’s basket with 6:09 left. The lead was down to 62-60 after Matisse Thybulle’s free throws with 3:52 left, but that was Washington’s final charge. Davis answered with his first 3-pointer of the game and pushed the Cardinal lead back to five. After a pair of empty possessions for Washington, Dorian Pickens added another 3 and Stanford led 68-60 with 2:25 left.
Hopkins took the blame for the two key 3-pointers saying defensive calls he made backfired and led to the open looks for Stanford.
Stanford: This should have been a far more comfortable victory for the Cardinal, but foul shooting was a major issue. Stanford was 15 of 28 at the foul line after entering the game at 69.5 percent for the season. Travis, who shoots nearly 71 percent on the season, was just 4 of 10.
Washington: The Huskies settled for the 3-pointer too often. Washington was 5 of 22 on 3s and 2 of 12 in the second half. Some of those were forced in the final moments, but too often the Huskies looked confused against Stanford’s defense.
Stanford: The Cardinal return home to host Arizona State next Wednesday.
Washington: The Huskies head back on the road and are at Utah next Thursday.
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SEATTLE (AP) — Washington has shown plenty of flaws in the first season under Mike Hopkins. The Huskies have also shown a knack for figuring out how to win even when it’s not the prettiest of performances.
Jaylen Nowell scored 20 points, Noah Dickerson added 12 points, and Washington continued its promising early start to conference play with a 66-56 win over California on Thursday night.
”I didn’t think we played well tonight,” Hopkins said. ”Cal missed fouls shots. Our offense in stretches wasn’t good. It reminded me of an early-season game. It didn’t feel like there was a flow. It was ugly. We allowed pressure, we had bad turnovers, but we found a way to win, which I’m happy for.”
The Huskies (13-4, 3-1 Pac-12) overcame a sloppy and unattractive first-half filled with fouls and turnovers to pull away from the Golden Bears over the final 15 minutes. Nowell carried Washington in the first half with 11 points and he got help from his supporting cast in the final 20 minutes.
Nahziah Carter was a big contributor with 10 points off the bench. David Crisp also finished with 10 points, all in the second half as the Huskies built a double-digit lead in the final 10 minutes and didn’t have to rally or hold on in the closing moments.
”It was definitely a great breather for us because most of our games we definitely had to come back from being down,” Nowell said.
Justice Sueing led California (7-10, 1-3) with a career-high 27 points, but the Golden Bears faltered in the latter stages of the second half after leading scorer Don Coleman fouled out with nearly 13 minutes remaining.
”He is a talented young man,” Cal coach Wyking Jones said of Sueing. ”He has been playing well for us the last couple of games. He was really good today but we have to get more from our bigs.”
Coleman, who was averaging 18.9, was already having a bad night and was constantly berated by the Washington student section. His night got worse when he fouled out with 12:47 remaining picking up his fourth foul on a defensive rebound attempt and being assessed a technical foul complaining about the call. The technical was his fifth and sent Coleman to the bench after going 0 of 4 shooting and just four points.
It was the third time this season Coleman failed to score in double figures but two of those have come in the past three games. Coleman was held to four points on 1 of 8 shooting in Cal’s loss to USC last week.
The technical became a turning point. Washington went on an 18-5 run after Coleman fouled out, including 14 straight during one stretch. Crisp, who was scoreless for the first 25 minutes of the game, hit a pair of key 3s during the run. The first time, Crisp flipped a 25-footer off an inbound play to beat the shot clock and push Washington’s lead to 54-43 with 8:30 remaining. He added a corner 3 on the Huskies next possession and the lead was 14 with 7:34 remaining.
”It wasn’t pretty and we found a way again,” Hopkins said. ”I give the guys credit, but I want more.”
California: Coleman is one of the few experienced players on the Bears young roster and they showed their inexperience after their leading scorer fouled out. California had a number of poor offensive possessions after Coleman went to the bench and watched the Huskies finally build a double-digit lead. … Cal lost its first true road game after starting 3-0 away from home.
Washington: Carter provided a needed spark off the bench. Matisse Thybulle picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and Carter was asked to play key minutes. It was the third time this season Carter has scored in double figures but he was efficient with his 10 points coming in just 14 minutes. … Washington’s 20 turnovers was a season-high.
The first half was ugly as the teams combined for 19 turnovers and 16 fouls in the first 20 minutes. Only the scoring of Nowell and Sueing saved the half from being a real slog. Sueing had 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting, while Nowell had 11 points, making 4 of 6 shots. Nowell’s 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in the half was followed by Michael Carter III’s 3 in the final seconds to give Washington a 28-24 lead at the break.
California: The Bears face Washington State on Saturday.
Washington: The Huskies host Stanford on Saturday.
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SEATTLE (AP) — Washington proved during its nonconference schedule it’s comfortable playing in close games and figuring out a way to come out ahead.
Even those games that are closer than they should be and leave their head coach a little anxious.
”Everybody laugh. I need a stress relief,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said after the Huskies held off Montana 66-63 on Friday night.
Jaylen Nowell scored 13 points and Hameir Wright added 11 points, five rebounds and four blocks off the bench as the Huskies overcame a sloppy effort to get past the Grizzlies in their final game before the start of Pac-12 Conference play next week.
The Huskies (10-3) topped their entire win total from last year, but getting that 10th win wasn’t easy as the Huskies had just one field goal over the final 7 1/2 minutes. Washington made just enough from the free-throw line and made some key defensive stops to hold off Montana.
”That’s pretty much been the story of our team this year just finding a way to win,” Washington guard David Crisp said. ”Time after time we’ve made big plays in the end to help us get a win.”
Montana had its chances late to pull off its second upset of a power conference team on the road this season. The Grizzlies won at Pittsburgh to open the season, but scored just one point in the final 4:14 against the Huskies. It was a disappointing conclusion to a gutty effort.
”I mean, we fought, and that is the only thing you can ask for in this type of game,” Montana guard Ahmaad Rorie said. ”It was hostile, and a lot of guys had never really played in this kind of environment. We’ve just got to clean up some little things to get better.”
Rorie led Montana (7-5) with 19 points and Jamar Akoh added 17, but the Grizzlies only point in the final four minutes came on Michael Oguine’s free throw with 5.2 seconds left.
Oguine was fouled by Crisp with the Huskies holding a 64-62 lead. Oguine hit the first free throw but left the second short. Washington got the rebound and Matisse Thybulle hit two free throws in the final moments to seal the victory.
Washington won its sixth straight in the series. Montana’s last victory over the Huskies came in 1994 in a game played in Missoula.
Washington had every chance to pull away and could never create enough of a cushion to be comfortable. Akoh’s rebound follow basket and Rorie’s driving layup with 5:03 remaining pulled the Grizzlies within 61-60. Akoh grabbed another offensive rebound on Montana’s next possession and his basket underneath gave the Griz their first lead since late in the first half.
Nowell answered with a 15-footer with 3:01 left and it was the last made shot by either team. Montana appeared to take the lead on Oguine’s driving layup with 1:13 left, but he was called for an offensive foul. Washington was called for a shot-clock violation – its third straight possession with a turnover – and the Griz had the ball with 43 seconds left down one.
Rorie got into the lane as the shot clock was winding down, but his driving attempt was challenged and missed with 17 seconds left. Washington got the rebound and Crisp was fouled. Crisp made 1 of 2 free throws for a 64-62 lead and then fouled Oguine at the other end with 5 seconds left.
”Before January we’ve won some close games and we’re lucky tonight we didn’t let one bite us,” Hopkins said. ”But I’ve got to give our guys a lot of credit. They made the plays they had to.”
Washington went with just a seven-man rotation because of Wright’s effort. The freshman made 4 of 8 shots and played 26 minutes. He was critical during a four-minute stretch of the second half where he scored nine of Washington’s 11 points.
Montana: The Griz will lament their turnovers, especially in the closing minutes. Montana committed 20 turnovers and had 11 shots blocked by Washington. The 20 turnovers tied a season-high.
Washington: The Huskies got a scare when Nowell appeared to twist his ankle midway through the second half. He stayed down on the court for a few moments before limping off. He returned with 5:03 left. It wasn’t Nowell’s best night even before being injured. The freshman was just 6-of-16 shooting.
Montana: The Griz open Big Sky play next Thursday at Northern Arizona.
Washington: The Huskies open conference play next Friday at USC.
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SEATTLE (AP) — Washington finally got to enjoy an easy, lopsided victory thanks to its best defensive half of the season and a fatigued, travel-weary opponent.
David Crisp hit four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, Dominic Green added six 3s and 18 points off the bench, and Washington pulled away in the second half to beat travel-troubled Bethune-Cookman 106-55 on Tuesday night.
Washington (9-3) matched its entire win total from the 2016-17 season before the end of the non-conference schedule and for a change the Huskies cruised to an easy victory where even the deepest reserves got time on the floor. Four of Washington’s first eight wins had come by seven points or less, including last Sunday’s 80-77 win over Loyola Marymount.
”We’ve had a lot of games we’ve really had to grind it out,” Crisp said.
The Huskies blitzed the Wildcats with a huge second-half as the fatigue of two days of travel issues finally caught up with Bethune-Cookman. The second half became a stream of turnovers by the Wildcats and easy baskets for the Huskies. Washington outscored the Wildcats 63-19 in the second half as Bethune-Cookman committed 17 turnovers and shot 20 percent.
Jaylen Nowell added 15 points and Nahaziah Carter had 11 off the bench for the Huskies. It was the first 50-point victory for Washington since early in the 2010-11 season.
”To be a great team it needs to be led by your defense. It has to,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. ”We were just getting by and I thought the guys really responded and really executed and it ended up being our best offense.”
Isaiah Bailey led Bethune-Cookman (5-8) with 16 points and Brandon Tabb added 11. The Wildcats had major travel troubles getting to Seattle due to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport being crippled by a power outage on Sunday. The majority of Bethune-Cookman’s roster spent most of Tuesday traveling, starting the day in Nashville, with a connection in Denver and finally arriving in Seattle less than four hours before tip. Bethune-Cookman’s traveling party was supposed to all arrive in Seattle on Sunday.
”I thought our guys tried to compete in the first half,” Bethune-Cookman coach Ryan Ridder said. ”Obviously we had some factors going against us with the travel. I thought we had a game plan the first half and we executed it. Unfortunately we just let it unravel in the second half.”
The Wildcats looked lethargic early, falling behind by 13 in the opening 11 minutes before a flurry of 3-pointers provided a jolt. The Wildcats went on a 25-13 scoring spurt to pull within 35-34 on Soufiyane Diakite’s driving basket with 3 minutes left in the half. Washington had one more surge to close the half and took a 43-36 lead at the break.
It proved to be the one time the Wildcats would threaten. Fatigue and sloppiness took over in the second half and Washington ran away.
”I feel like we really locked in, stopped messing around and being lackadaisical,” Crisp said. ”Everybody stayed locked in on what they were supposed to do and did their job.”
Bethune-Cookman: The Wildcats will be hoping for less travel trouble getting to Pullman, Washington, for their matchup Friday with Washington State. Bethune-Cookman is scheduled to bus the five hours to Pullman.
Washington: While it came in a blowout, Green’s six 3-pointers off the bench could be big if he can replicate that shooting against others. Green has struggled with consistency shooting from the perimeter. … Eleven of the 12 players for Washington scored and 11 of 12 had an assist. Dan Kingma was the only player not to score; Greg Bowman was the only player without an assist.
The Wildcats nearly avoided their travel nightmare. Their flight was minutes from pulling away from the gate in Atlanta when the power outage struck. The team eventually was booked on standby flights on Monday, but only a small number of staff and two players made it to Seattle. The rest got as far as Nashville, before taking two flights – with another delay in Denver – to reach the Pacific Northwest.
Bethune-Cookman: The Wildcats are at Washington State on Friday.
Washington: The Huskies host Montana on Friday.
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SEATTLE (AP) — When Bethune-Cookman agreed to travel cross country to face Washington as part of its non-conference schedule, it was supposed to be an easy non-stop flight from Atlanta to Seattle.
That was before Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was crippled by a power outage on Sunday that left the Wildcats stranded and scrambling to get their team to the Pacific Northwest.
The majority of the Wildcats roster did not land in Seattle until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, less than 4 hours before tipoff, according to school spokesman Nolan Alexander. The team watched film and had a meal together before heading across town to play the Huskies.
After an impressive effort in the first half, the Wildcats wilted in the second half due to sloppy play and fatigue. Bethune-Cookman was outscored 63-19 in the second half and Washington rolled to a 106-55 win.
”I thought our guys tried to compete in the first half,” Bethune-Cookman coach Ryan Ridder said. ”Obviously we had some factors going against us with the travel. I thought we had a game plan the first half and we executed it. Unfortunately we just let it unravel in the second half.”
It was a three-day stretch no team or coach could prepare for.
Ridder, a couple of players and some staff were able to get to Seattle on Monday night. But the rest of the Wildcats roster bounced their way across the country. They left Atlanta on Monday night and overnighted in Nashville. After catching a Tuesday morning flight to Denver, the group endured another delay before finally making their connection to Seattle.
Ridder said the split of traveling groups made it very challenging to prepare for Washington.
”I don’t think you ever plan to deal with something like that,” Ridder said. ”Give our administration and staff (credit). We found a way to get here even if it was 4 hours before we made it. We found a way to get out here which was important.”
Bethune-Cookman almost avoided the crazy travel headache. The Wildcats were scheduled on a 1:08 p.m. flight on Sunday from Atlanta; Georgia Power said a fire in an underground electrical facility caused a sudden power outage around 1 p.m. Sunday.
After spending most of Sunday at the airport – passing the time by singing with other stranded passengers – the Wildcats found lodging in Atlanta. They returned at 4 a.m. Monday to play the waiting game of trying to get on flights West and eventually the entire traveling party got out of Atlanta on Monday.
The Wildcats are in the midst of a four-game, three-state trip. The Wildcats bused to the first two games of the trip at South Florida last Thursday and last Saturday’s game at Kennesaw State. Bethune-Cookman has one more bus trip to finish off the road trip – from Seattle to Pullman, Washington for Friday’s game with Washington State.
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