Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com

Fultz's debut spoiled in UW loss to Yale

Freshman Markelle Fultz played as advertised, scoring 30 points in his Washington debut, but the Huskies couldn't overcome a 14-point halftime deficit, as Yale defeated the Huskies 98-90 Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Fultz led Washington (0-1) with 30 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one block. Matisse Thybulle fouled out with 20 points, four rebounds, one assist, six blocks, and one steal. David Crisp and Noah Dickerson each accounted for 12 points.

Yale (1-0) was paced by the 24 points of Miye Oni, who was 4-6 from three-point range. Sam Downey added 22, Blake Reynolds 19, Alex Copeland 14 and Anthony Dallier 12. 

Down 49-35 at intermission, the Huskies rallied behind Fultz's 24 second-half points, but couldn't keep the Bulldogs off the line. Yale made 18-25 free throws the second half to keep UW at bay when the home team cut the lead down to as little as four with 5:21 to play. 

Four quick points out of the time out, and the Huskies never recovered.

Washington tied a school record for blocks with 15 but gave up 21 offensive rebounds to the Bulldogs - eight of those team rebounds. Conversely, the Huskies could only come up with four offensive boards. 

UW was outscored off turnovers 14-9 and in second-chance points 19-6 despite shooting at a 59 percent clip from the field for the game. In fact, they shot a better field goal percentage (66.7 percent) than free throw percentage (58.8 percent) in the second half, despite taking 13 more shots from the field than the line.  

Fultz got his UW career off to a strong start, taking the ball at their end, dribbling it down to the Yale paint, and scoring on his first shot, a leaner in traffic. But that was the only bucket the Huskies would make until the 14:53 mark when Dominic Green scored on a jumper. By then Yale had scored seven points and were off and rolling. 

The Bulldogs had an 11-point lead with 10:21 to play in the half and extended it to a game-high 20 after two Reynolds free throws with 5:49 left. It was at that point you could hear a small smattering of boos echo throughout the arena as Washington tried to apply more pressure.

Thybulle started to get in the game offensively, scoring 10 of his 13 first half points in the final 4:41. 

Markelle Fultz and Matisse Thybulle

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Matisse Thybulle

What’s the biggest takeaway from this loss? “We gave up too much. We’ve shown in the last exhibition game and this game that we can put up points but the moral of each game has been that we give up too much on the defensive end.”

On Yale’s success with backdoor passes “The backdoor is something we try to force things into. That comes from our person that we put on the wings. We just weren’t in our help defensive positions. Because of that they just had open looks to the hoop. That’s an easy change. We need to come out in these kind of games mentally ready to be in those positions. That shouldn’t be a problem we have during a game.”

On getting blocks but not rebounds “A lot of those blocks came from them already getting an offensive rebound and just trying to go back up with it. We need to get our work done early and just secure the first rebound and stop giving up so many offensive rebounds to the other team.”

On the lack of offensive rebounds “Lack of effort. Lack of heart. We just weren’t crashing hard enough. We weren’t trying to be physical. They hit us first and we just stopped.”

On the frustration of getting out hustled “It hurts because we practice hard and we get after it in practice. For us to come out in our first game of the season and not show anything we’ve been working on is disappointing.”

Was that a lack of energy or being too hyped up? “We just need to play harder, be more physical, tougher.”

Has it been hard to adjust to the new big guys? “Yeah, it’s different having more of a post presence and actual size down there. I thin some of the guards might see it as we can lay off because they can take care of things down there when in reality we should be going even harder because that’s to our advantage. To have someone like Sam Timmins down there in the post who can grab rebounds, set screens and get to the hoop, that’s a huge advantage for us that we didn’t have last year. I think us guards need to take that and run with it and crash even harder and go even harder to the hoop.”

Markelle Fultz

What’s the biggest takeaway from this loss? “It’s not really about the points. It’s who gets the most stops. We failed to do that tonight. They’re a great team. We just failed to get stops when we needed them.”

On the lack of defense “I just think it was lack of focus at times. Sometimes they make great passes, great plays. The ball got through sometimes. Just mental stuff. Stuff that we can work on and become  better. That’s all I think it was.”

What went through your head before the game? “I was just ready to play. I was just focused on the game. Wasn’t worried about anything else, just trying to get the ‘W.’”

Lorenzo Romar

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Opening “If you follow Yale you have to be impressed with their basketball team and how they  go about their business. They executed very, very well. Had a couple terrific young players that were patient and they made big shots. They were on the road but they played with a great deal of poise. Hats off to them. With that being said we point no further than the backboards on our end and their end. Although we had some defensive breakdowns I think that tells the story. They scored 19 points on second chance rebounds. The thing about 21 (offensive) rebounds is eight of them were team rebounds. That means the ball went out of bounds. We could not come up with the basketball. We would get stops and could not come up with the basketball. 21 (offensive) rebounds, you cut that number - the number we want to get is below nine (offensive rebounds allowed). If we reach that number it’s obviously a different ball game. We did not do a good job of securing the ball. Sometimes we had the ball but weren’t tough enough to come down with it. On the flip side we only had four offensive rebounds. That’s not Husky Basketball.”

What has to be done to keep teams off the offensive glass? “I have to watch the film. In rotations they had a lot of movement offensively so we were moving around a lot. Sometimes you get out of position on the box outs. Again, I can’t wait to watch the film because I think there were a number of times that we were right there with the ball but they were quicker to the ball and more aggressive to get it than we were, which should not happen.”

Can you remember a better debut for a freshman than Markelle Fultz had? “Not in a real game. Exhibition game, yeah. He did a nice job, very nice job.”

Is there an easy fix to the defense? “We played two interesting teams. In the exhibition game we played Western Washington who played with basically five perimeter guys the entire time. The entire time five perimeter guys. In that game we were kind of experimenting with different lineups. Tonight we played the people we wanted to play, but again it was a team that was very methodical. If anything we need to be more patient defensively. But we gave up a lot of points in the exhibition. We gave up a lot of points here. I think it’s something that we can resolve.”

How hard is it to forge an identity with a young team? “It takes a little time. I still feel like we should be a little further along in some things. Again, four guys in double figures; we scored 90 points ourselves. We have to get stops and part of getting stops is getting the ball. You get a team to miss, you have to come up with the basketball.”

On a lot of blocks but not many rebounds “I don’t think we go back and say ‘okay we blocked 15 shots, let’s do that anymore.’ But I’m saying you’re exactly right when the shots were blocked it was consistent on the backboard when the shot went up and we didn’t block the block the shot. We just were not as quick to the ball. We weren’t reacting as quick as we needed to come up with them. We got a ton of deflections tonight. Guys were very active, tons of deflections. Matisse Thybulle played a heck of a defensive game. I think it’s no question that’s his best overall game since he’s been a Husky. He wasn’t the only one. Other guys were getting deflections but we didn’t come up with the ball.”

Did you see there was a lack of toughness? “There’s no doubt they were the more physical team and there’s no doubt they were quicker to the ball. I think it’s indicative of the score and the stat sheet.”

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