“I know you’re going to think I’m making this up, but I know we’re a better shooting team than we showed tonight, and against Saint Martin’s; 3-21 and 10-17 from the foul line - that’s uncharacteristic for this team the way we’ve been practicing and even in our scrimmage against Portland. But if we shoot the ball at a normal rate, I think it’s even more exciting for us tonight. But I thought we did a lot of good things.”
Shawn Kemp led the Huskies with 17 points, while Robert Upshaw (14), Andrew Andrews (13), and Nigel Williams-Goss (10) were the other UW players in double-figures. Karon Wright scored 14 for the Bulldogs (0-1), while Greg Mortimer added 10.
With the score 20-17 Huskies mid-way through the first half, Washington locked in defensively and held South Carolina State scoreless for over six minutes, eventually rolling out a 12-0 run during that span.
“We just came out…coach (Romar) told us we needed to play with more energy,” said Upshaw, who also came up with six rebounds and an astounding seven blocks on the night. “We were letting them hang with us for a second there, but we regrouped and got it together and pushed away.”
According to Romar, the sophomore from Fresno altered another six shots as he warded off any Bulldogs attempting to go to the basket. “My goodness, what a rim protector he was for us tonight,” Romar said.
But Williams-Goss was the player of the game. With 10 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists, the sophomore guard approached triple-double territory - something he’s never done as a Husky.
“We botched a couple of passes and missed a couple of easy shots or he would have had a triple-double tonight,” Romar said of Williams-Goss. “Nigel played hard tonight. I don’t know if people understood how hard he competed, and that made a big difference in the game tonight.”
Friday’s game was a good opening test for the Huskies, as the Bulldogs were determined to try and throw as many defenses as possible - man-to-man, zone, trapping, doubling the ball. Washington finished with only 12 turnovers despite a lot of South Carolina State harassment.
“It’s hard to simulate that in practice when they’re throwing so many defenses - and we knew they were going to change defenses a lot. I thought our guys did a decent job against it. We had 16 assists on 32 field goals. If we knock down a lot of those open (jumpers) and some chippys around the rim we probably get 20, 25 assists. We were pleased with that.”
With the UW shooters clearly affected by the colder temperatures, it was a bonus to have Kemp and Upshaw producing at a high level on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs’ tallest starting defender was 6-foot-8 Darryl Palmer, and their next tallest defender that played was 6-foot-7 Tashombe Wright.
“We’ve played against undersized teams before and that kind of result didn’t occur,” said Romar. “Those guys gave us a lot. Shawn was very aggressive; you could see he was meeting passes, holding onto the basketball, going to the basket strong. Rob, with his length, did a good job around the rim.”
Points: Kemp 17, Upshaw 14, Andrews 13, Williams-Goss 10, Anderson 9, Jarreau 6, Johnson 4, Winters 4
Rebounds: Williams-Goss 12, Jarreau 7, Andrews 7, Kemp 6, Upshaw 6, Anderson 5, Winters 3, TEAM 3, Johnson 1, Taylor 1
Assists: Williams-Goss 7, Andrews 6, Jarreau 1, Anderson 1, Winters 1
Blocks: Upshaw 7, Williams-Goss 1
Steals: Williams-Goss 2, Anderson 1
Robert Upshaw, Nigel Williams-Goss, Shawn Kemp