Kim Griniolds/Dawgman.com

Washington fights through slow start, throttle Titans

Led by three players in double-figures, the Washington Huskies endured a slow opening to eventually outlast the Cal State-Fullerton Titans 87-69 Sunday night at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Dejounte 'Baby Boy' Murray had 17 points, Matisse Thybulle 16, and senior Andrew Andrews 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskies (5-2). Marquese Chriss and David Crisp finished the game with nine points apiece. 

Fullerton (6-2) was led by the 20 points of Malcolm Brooks, while Lionheart Leslie finished with 16 and Lanerryl Johnson 13. 

It was not easy for the Huskies right from the opening tip. CSF ran to a 20-9 lead with 12:06 remaining in the first half after a Brooks jumper.

"I thought (Cal State) Fullerton came out and had us on our heels with their quickness," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We talked about their quickness for the last three days but until you’re really in front of it sometimes maybe you don’t get it. I thought we adjusted. We began to guard better. Matisse (Thybulle), Dejounte (Murray), and Malik Dime, those guys really, and Drew (Andrew Andrews) was busting his tail out there, started to get a lot of deflections and got our defense going and made all the difference in the world.

“I just think we got down and defended. That’s what it always is with us; we get down and guard. We started to make them more uncomfortable and try to keep them in front of us a little bit. Malik (Dime) was protecting the basket and we got a lot of baskets in transition as a result of our defense. That was the recipe to get it going. Just bear down on the defensive end.”

Donaven Dorsey, who played a season-high 19 minutes, hit a three-pointer on Washington's next possession, and that jump-started an extended run. Washington tied the Titans at 30 before hitting the afterburners to end the half on a 16-7 run. 

Despite only contributing three points and two assists on the scoresheet, Romar was effusive when asked about the sophomore’s energy and competitive fire.  

"I'm very proud of Donanven," Romar said. "Donaven competed. He's the one guy other than Drew that has game experience, and when he goes out and competes...he played a half a game, and he did that because he competed. We want guys that compete. His minutes were up because he competed."

The freshman Thybulle was the star of the first half, hitting two of three threes and 11 points overall in the first 20 minutes. 

“Matisse (Thybulle) is a very good passer," said Romar. "He’s a good offensive rebounder. He’s worked and he hits the open shot. He’s shooting a pretty good percentage from the three. He’s kind of an opportunist right now. He’s such a great athlete and so quick he just kind of gets in there and has opportunities to make plays. When he’s playing aggressively he’s capable of doing that. He came out and he hit some shot from the outside and you could just see his confidence grow. When Matisse plays with confidence he’s a different player.”

"We try to tell (Thybulle) ‘stay aggressive; you’re not just a defender,’ added Murray. "So we all try to keep him confident.”

The Huskies picked up right where they left off, pushing the lead to 14 just before the under-16 minute timeout via an Andrews bomb. A jumper by the Titans’ Jamar Akoh gave Fullerton their closest margin in the second half - eight points - with 14:25 to go in the game, but then Washington put the hammer down. Andrews and Murray hit jumpers, while Thybulle and Malik Dime threw down monster jams. With 8:19 left, David Crisp came up with the dagger - a three to give Washington a 22-point lead.

Murray was the leading UW scorer in the second half, using his wingspan to get deflections and score in transition.

"I don’t just play offense," said Murray. "I come from Rainier Beach High School. We play defense over there or you can’t play. That translates over here at college with Lorenzo Romar. You have to play defense or you’re subbed out; you make one mistake and you’re coming out. I just try to stay in the lanes and keep my man in front of me as much as I can.”

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