The Washington Huskies were able to overcome their offensive woes in the first half and defeat Western Kentucky 73-55 in their season opener.
In the first half, the Huskies couldn’t hit a shot to save their lives. They shot an anemic 11.1% from behind the arc, going 2 for 18 while shooting just 29.7% from the field.
“The fountain just dried up. Western Kentucky went to a 2-3 zone and it was like we never seen a zone before. We got some decent shots for being 2 for 18, mostly good shots but then we started panicking when we weren’t making them.” Head coach Mike Hopkins said.
Early in the first half, senior forward Noah Dickerson picked up two quick fouls and was sent to the bench. Head coach Mike Hopkins inserted Dickerson back into the game only to pick up his third foul and get sent back to the bench again.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell kept the Huskies in the game offensively in the first half by being aggressive and scoring in the midrange game.
Without Dickerson, the Huskies struggled to score the basketball from the outside which allowed the Hilltoppers to find their rhythm, and take a 36-27 heading into halftime.
In the second half, the Huskies came out like a completely different team. They started out the half going on a 13-0 run and set the tone for the rest of the game.
Suddenly, the missed shots from the first half were starting to go in because of the intensity they were playing with on the defensive end. Everything was fueled by their energy on that end of the floor.
Dickerson was able to stay out of foul trouble in the second half, and ended up as the Huskies leading scorer with 18 points. He made his presence felt in the paint down the stretch.
“It was nice to have Noah Dickerson. When he gets that look in his eyes, he’s a hard guy to stop down there.” Hopkins said after the game.
The game remained close for most of the second half and then the Huskies started to pull away with it, and cruised to a comfortable 18 point win.
Senior guard Matisse Thybulle was the spark plug on defense as usual and finished with a game high 6 blocks, which helped keep the Hilltoppers in check.
The Huskies were able to get consistent play from senior point guard David Crisp tonight, as he played an efficient game and made good decisions with the ball. He finished with 13 points and 7 assists.
“We got such an athletic team and so many guys who can finish like Noah in the post. We said if you got an open shot, don’t be passive and take that open shot but let’s really make sure we put pressure on the rim. Don’t bail guys out by pulling up and shooting 3s and jump shots.” David Crisp said after the game.
Western Kentucky was led by redshirt junior guard/forward Jared Savage who finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds on the night.
Overall, the Huskies will have to find a way to put together a 40-minute performance from start to finish. It’s early in the season and the Huskies are still trying to find their way so far.
They will need to find more consistent shooting from the outside in order to be successful this season. Opposing teams will continue to pack the paint and force the Huskies to shoot from the outside, until they can prove that they can knock down shots.
“It was a learning experience. We were in the sand trap, down nine….at home. Pressure is on! Everybody wants to see the team. These guys showed a lot of poise and a lot of resiliency. We executed the game plan. When we do that we can beat anybody. Tonight I was just proud of where we were at, what we did and to come back. I’m just really, really proud.” Hopkins said
The Huskies (1-0) return to the court later this week on Friday, November 9th at 6:00pm PST at Auburn Arena when they take on the #11 Auburn Tigers.
Washington vs. Western Kentucky Final Game Stats
Below is the actual video of Mike Hopkin’s Postgame Press Conference…..