Former Texas player Martez Walker scored 18 in his Oakland debut and Jalen Hayes added 16 for the Golden Grizzlies (7-3).
Washington was led by the 16 points of Dejounte Murray and Matisse Thybulle. Andrew Andrews added 15 while Marquese Chriss scored 12 for the Huskies (7-3).
Felder, the Horizon League Pre-Season Player of the Year, played every bit like an All-American, nearly scoring a double-double with nine assists to go with his career-high in points. Having scored his previous career-high of 34 in Oakland’s last game versus Toledo, the 5-foot-9 Felder was a constant menace with his dribble-penetration and finishing - whether it was for himself or to an open big man down low.
"The last guy that played in this building that played like that plays for the Celtics now," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said of Felder, comparing him to former Washington star Isaiah Thomas. "We’re not invincible, and a team that you’ve never really watched play before can come in here and beat you – right in here and take a game from you. The scouting reports are not trying to overhype somebody.”
Felder’s quickness created enough problems for Washington that often they were caught in-between their defensive rotations. That meant more offensive rebounds for Oakland (17), more total rebounds (55-39) and more points in the paint than Washington (52-34). The main benefactor inside for Oakland was the 6-foot-7 Hayes, who ripped down a career-high 17 rebounds to go with his 16 points.
Oakland raced out to a 27-10 lead, but Felder didn't do most of his first half damage until late, scoring 16 of his 25 first half points with under five minutes to go - including a banked shot that went in with just two seconds to go before intermission.
"He was just making tough shots," Andrews said of Felder. "He was just good. He made a lot of contested shots. I don’t think it was anything we were doing. In the second half Dejounte (Murray) did a good job. His length bothered him a lot so he kind of slowed him down a little bit with his length. Other than that he was just making a lot of contested shots. A couple of times in the first half they got him going a little bit with backdoor layups and he got a couple like chippers from offensive rebounds and stuff like that. Any time you let a great scorer like that get in a rhythm then he kind of starts to get going.”
"One of the things we told our team was that they would run a lot of motion around the rim but it would free (Felder) up to kind of do his thing – he just got in the zone," Romar added. "They weren’t running anything. It was just him starting to make shots. Over the years Salim Stoudamire scores 37 points on us in the Pac-12 championship game. We won the game but it was a phenomenal performance. Klay Thompson scores, and we guarded him with everybody, Klay Thompson scores 40-some points on us. We won that game. We won a game against Gonzaga with Adam Morrison going off. Just super performances.
"Every now and then there’s a player out there that has a great night. We can say ‘should we have run at him? What should we have done differently to throw him off?’ Maybe we could have done some different things. I think he’s cleaver enough to where he sees the double team coming and just kind of goes at you and makes you pay for it. Hats off to him and his team and their coaches. We saw a great performance here today.”
After being down 20 at the half, the Huskies didn’t quit. They battled back to halve the deficit after a Noah Dickerson dunk with 13:43 remaining capped off an 8-0 run. But it was Walker, playing his first game ever for the Golden Grizzlies, who scored eight-straight on his own to effectively end any chance Washington had to get back in the game.
"That was a good team, well-coached team and they just came and they never stopped," Murray said. "They kept going hard. We went on a run and cut it down and they went back on a run. It’s just a learning experience and we have to get back to practicing and get ready for the next team.”
Washington out-scored Oakland 48-42 in the second half, but it wasn't nearly enough to overcome the mistakes made in the first 20 minutes of the game. The Huskies have to lick their wounds quickly, as they only have two days to rest and bounce back against Seattle University Tuesday night at Alaska Airlines Arena.
"I’m sure we’ll respond the right way," Romar said. "I don’t think this is a game we’ll go spiraling the wrong way. I’m sure we’ll respond the right way.”