by: Griffin Bennett
I’ll start off by saying that I had my doubts. The first half looked very familiar as the Huskies struggled to get their offense started against the Cougar’s tough zone defense. It was filled with missed open jumpers and poor transition defense. Obviously Klay Thompson was hot but we all knew that was possible. Then the second half started.
The Huskies went on an early 8-0 run to take a 2 point lead 42-40. Without that early run I’m not sure how the Huskies would have survived. We all know that the Huskies feed off of energy and the quick second half start reinvigorated a Husky team that truly needed it. I don’t know who was the spark, be it Romar or a team captain, but that person needs to be praised. It put heavy on pressure on WSU to keep their high scoring pace which only helped UW into a tempo in which they were comfortable. The only Coug that was up to the challenge seemed to be Klay Thompson who was unconscious from deep. Thompson finished the game with 43 points while shooting 8-14 from three, and most were contested. If there was any doubt of his future NBA potential, he shot himself into a future lottery pick.
An underrated moment in the game was when Reggie Moore picked up his third foul early in the second half and was forced to the bench. That moved Faisal Aden into the point guard role who then turned the ball over on 3 of the next 5 possessions which gave UW the lead. Thompson didn’t get any help from Motum, Capers, Lodwick, or Moore who all combined for a total of 12 points. The Huskies really picked up the defense thanks to MBA being able to control his body and not getting into any foul trouble getting two early calls.
With the score tied at 73-73 after another Thompson three, Wilcox hit the Huskies next three shots (all threes) to pull away to 82-75 with 3:51 remaining. While he wasn’t the only hero of the game, those consecutive shots might have been the most electric stretch of any game this season. After that it was all Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas played the full 40 minutes as he was only point guard on the roster. After a few poor games in row, I can’t give Thomas enough praise. He played like a true team leader and kept his confidence high as he started off slow once again. Isaiah made the Huskies last three field goals which sealed the game after a few free throws from each team. Was it a perfect game? No, but as Romar put it, “We’ve had bigger wins in the past, but I don’t know if we’ve had one more timely.”
- Isaiah Thomas – M.V.P. Thank you. Thank you so much. He led the team for a full 40 minutes and he never looked back. He finished with 21 points, 11 assists, 3 steals, 8-13 shooting, and only 3 turnovers. He only had 3 turnovers in 40 minutes!!!! What an amazing game.
- Justin Holiday – I’ve never seen a quieter double-double in my life. My friend watched Holiday drain a mid-range jumper late in the game a proclaimed “Thank you!” sarcastically as he thought Holiday had been quiet. On cue, FSN flashed his 11 point and 10 rebound statistics on the screen which left him him dumbfounded. He finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals and I can easily say that the Huskies would not have won this game without him.
- MBA – It’s been a long time since we’ve had the “Big Three” all in the positive category. It was obvious that the Cougs’ strategy was to double team MBA every time he touched the ball down low. I don’t think people give him enough credit for having to deal with double teams every single game. After slow start in the first half, he finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.
- C.J. Wilcox – Clutch Jumpers Wilcox struck again with his money stroke. Can you believe that this guy is only a freshman? He finished with 16 points and shot 5-9 from deep.
- Terrence Ross – When I saw his name in the starting line-up I first assumed the worst. Did Aziz show up late to shoot around? Is someone hurt? Is Romar sending a message? After only playing 4 minutes in the last two games combined, Ross started the first game of his career and made good work of it. His first half shooting kept UW around and his defense was key in holding WSU at bay at times.
- Assists to Turnovers – Bottom line, the Huskies fixed their turnover bug. Theyended the game with 20 assists and 10 turnovers which should win any game in which a player doesn’t score 43 points. Full credit belongs to Isaiah Thomas. Have I thanked him enough yet?
- Game Pace – As slow as it was in the first half, the Huskies turned it completely around the second. While being down 40-32 at half, the Huskies sped the pace up with turnovers and pressure to outscore the Cougars 57-47 in the second.
- Three Point Shooting – 11-23 (39.3%) for the game is only okay. As you would expect, the Huskies shot 35.7% in the first half and 42.9% in the second. Am I getting nit-picky yet?
- Aziz N’diaye – What are we going to do with him?
- Rebounding – The Huskies need to be able to out rebound the Cougars when they played 80% zone defense. They only lost the battle 33-36, but I think they can do better.
The Dawgs are Dancin’!!! That win all but clinched a birth for the Huskies in the Big Dance, and all but eliminated the Cougars from anymore post season hope. That felt good to type. I might copy that sentence and email it to every Cougar I know and I suggest you do the same. Not only was it good to see a win, but it was good to see that the Huskies could bounce back from being in a hole early. Next up are the Oregon Ducks, our second favorite team in the Pac-10. I can’t hardly wait. Bow Down!