The Washington Huskies Men’s Basketball team played another game at Alaska Airlines Arena, which was their third and final game of the week, against the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
At the beginning of the first half, the Huskies changed things up defensively by coming out in a 2-3 zone. They had been starting in man-to-man defense previously.
The move seemed to pay off, as the Huskies got off to a fast start leading 5-2 after the first few minutes. After that fast start, Gonzaga settled down and went 5 for 5 from the field and took a 13-7 lead at the 15:16 mark.
Washington head coach Mike Hopkins called a timeout to regroup. The game was being played at a high octane pace, with both teams showcasing their athleticism.
The atmosphere in the arena was “electric,” as both the Husky faithful and the Bulldogs fans were cheering loudly on every single possession!
It was clear that both teams were trying to feel each other out early and find the best way to attack each other’s weaknesses.
Over the next five minutes, the Huskies would commit some silly turnovers, which resulted in some empty possessions and nothing to show for it.
Gonzaga took full advantage with hitting 3 out of 3 from the field and the lead was extended to 20-14, with 10:56 left in the half.
At the timeout, Hopkins was imploring his team to settle down and take care of the basketball so they could find an offensive rhythm.
Hopkins brought backup point guard Elijah Hardy into the game for some much needed ball handling skills and to settle down the offense.
During the next few minutes, both teams got hot offensively, as the Huskies went on a 5 for 6 FG stretch of their own.
Gonzaga was on a 5 for 7 stretch of their own, as both teams traded baskets and jabs early on. At the 7:48 mark, the Bulldogs were leading 24-19.
True freshman forward Jaden McDaniels was very assertive and looking for his jump shot early on, hitting some baskets to keep things close.
He brought the house down with a baseline dunk that sent shock waves through Alaska Airlines Arena and ignited the Huskies!
Over the next couple of minutes, the Huskies went on a nice little run and played some sound defense, which helped them close the gap.
The Bulldogs lead was was cut to 32-28, with 3:51 left in the first half, with the Husky crowd boisterous and cheering on their team!
Finding a way to finish the half strong and keep the game close would be critical for the Huskies for the final stretch.
Both teams played with a high intensity in the final minutes and traded jabs back and forth, but the Bulldogs executed better.
The Huskies hit a critical three point basket by junior forward Hameir Wright, which completely changed the momentum at the end.
Gonzaga missed their last shot and the Huskies went into halftime within striking distance of the #9 team in the nation.
At the end of the half, Gonzaga was leading 41-37, with both teams having success during certain stretches of the half.
True freshman forward Isaiah Stewart had 10 points and 5 rebounds, while McDaniels had 9 points and 3 rebounds for the Huskies.
Heading into the locker room, the Huskies needed to address the Bulldogs 24-14 advantage in the paint, which was a 10-point differential.
At the start of the second half, both teams came out with their original starting five but Hopkins quickly inserted Hardy into the game.
The Huskies were aggressive at the start and exchanged baskets with the Bulldogs for the first few minutes of the half.
During a timeout at the 15:53 mark, the Huskies were trailing the Bulldogs 50-44 and it was clear that every possession was critical.
Wright, who made a huge contribution in the first half, picked up his third foul at the 16:16 mark, which made an impact.
Defensively, the Huskies got after it, with suffocating the Bulldogs into a 3:01 stretch of not scoring any field goals in the second half.
At the 14:01 mark, Gonzaga was leading 53-49 and the game was right there for anybody to take with the proper execution.
The Huskies would go on a mini-run, spearheaded by point guard Quade Green, who attacked the interior of the Bulldogs defense
He took what the defense gave him and made some crucial shots, that forced Gonzaga to defend the entire floor.
Every time the Huskies threatened to take the lead, the Zags would hold them off and make a basket of their own to keep the lead.
Over the next few minutes, the Huskies went on a scoring drought that lasted over 3:00 minutes and the Bulldogs increased their lead.
The Huskies fought back with a little surge and cut the lead to 65-60 and the energy in the building was pointing towards the Huskies.
All they had to do now was take care of the basketball, as they had 17 turnovers, which you can’t have against an elite team!
Wright hit a critical three-point basket that helped the Huskies claw back to within four at the 6:39 mark.
Getting over the hump and taking the lead was the next step for the Huskies and they were certainly coming at the Zags!
For a young team, the Huskies showed tremendous poise! McDaniels hit a huge three that cut the Bulldogs lead to 72-70, with 3:51 left.
It was anybody’s game now and whoever executed down the stretch would come out with the big victory!
Junior forward Nahziah Carter hit back-to-back three’s and cut the Gonzaga lead to 79-76, with 1:20 left in the game.
In the final minute, the Huskies were unable to execute and finish properly in order to pull off the upset against a top ten team.
The Huskies will have to cut down on their turnovers going forward to win close games, as they had a total of 19 tonight.
When the final horn sounded, the Huskies lost the game 83-76, which concluded the third game of the week for the Dawgs.
The Huskies were led by Isaiah Stewart, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds for another “double-double.” McDaniels and Carter also chipped in 15 points a piece.
Gonzaga was led by forward Filip Petrusev, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, which helped the Bulldogs hold on to their lead down the stretch.
Next up for the Huskies is another home game on Tuesday, December 17th at 8:00 p.m. PT, against the Seattle University Redhawks at Alaska Airlines Arena.
WASHINGTON VS. GONZAGA FINAL BOX SCORE
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