After dropping their first two conference games at home the Washington Huskies earned their first PAC-12 win, beating the Oregon State Beavers 87-61.
Rewind to just a few days ago and the Washington Huskies were wounded badly by a 12-0 Oregon Duck run in the first half of Washington’s 83-61 loss. In Saturday’s 26-point win over the Oregon State Beavers, the Huskies flipped the script. After trailing 8-7 early, a slam by Malik Dime sparked a four and a half minute stretch which saw the Dawgs score 12 unanswered points. From that moment on it was all Washington (8-7, 1-2).
Matisse Thybulle found his offensive rhythm early, breaking double digits in the points column for the first time since Washington’s victory over Cal Poly. His 14 points first half set the tone for the the high-scoring Huskies.
“I’m confident in myself as a shooter, explained Thybulle, “but it helps when these guys find me wide open in the corners of trailing for threes.”
The second half was the Markelle Fultz and Carlos Johnson show, who scored 13 and 10 points respectively in the second period. Fultz led the way with 20 points, followed by 17 from Thybulle. Johnson finished with 15 points, making all three of his three-pointers. Crisp also reached double digits, amassing 14 points to go with his 10 assists.
Oregon State had three players in double digits as well. Drew Eubanks and JaQuori McLaughlin led the way with 19 apiece, while Stephen Thompson Jr. followed with 12 of his own.
Lorenzo Romar’s squad played, without a doubt, their most complete game of the season. The timing could not have been more perfect. In Friday’s press briefing, Romar stressed the importance of performing well against the Beavers, highlighting grit as an integral ingredient to success. After the game, David Crisp mentioned that a team meeting on Friday helped rekindle Washington’s motivation.
“We draw the line here,” a determined David Crisp added about the Friday’s meeting. “Everybody has to buy in. We reset our foundation. Everybody’s just locked back in.”
Romar that during the meeting they drilled in the fact that if there wasn’t a change in mindset that the issues that factored into the Husky’s slow start would continue to occur. The Huskies waited no time answering the call, and came out playing with plenty of grit.
And while grit and intensity are intangible qualities, the passion with which the Huskies played showed up today on the stat sheet. The Huskies dominated the glass, out rebounding their foes 35 to 29 en route to 18 second chance points.
Washington’s 11 steals played a major role in tallying 29 points off turnovers. The Husky defense threw a variety of different looks at their opponents, including a man defense, zone defense, and a full-court press. At times the Dawgs would trap off Oregon State guards off of ball screens. Crisp mentioned that they knew the Beavers didn’t want to play fast and knew they could cause problems trying to speed them up with pressure. Their effort defensively forced 15 Beaver turnovers.
Perhaps more impressively though, Washington only turned the ball over nine times while accumulating 17 assists. The Huskies, for the most part, were smart and patient with the basketball and were able to find open shooters as a result.
Part of Washington’s dominance in the turnover margin has to be attributed to their willingness to hit the deck and dive after loose balls.
“That’s Husky Basketball,” said David Crisp, a player coach Romar has called an emerging leader. “That’s got to be our identity.”
A minor scare with just over two minutes left had Markelle Fultz and Malik Dime on the floor for a bit. Fultz got up and walked gingerly back to the bench, but appeared to be fine. Meanwhile, Dime went into the tunnel to look at what looked like a hand injury.
Beyond that, Saturday was a nearly perfect day for Husky hoops. The Dawgs played a complete 40 minutes of basketball on both ends of the floor, took care of the basketball, got after it on the boards, and played with hustle and grit.
“Winning the game was one thing today, but the way we did it was refreshing,” said a pleased Romar. “Just thought we did things the right way and had contributions from a lot of different players today.”
Washington will look to build off this success on Thursday on the road against California.
Opening - “Winning the game was one thing, but the way we did it was refreshing in that we did a lot of things the right way and had contributions from a lot of different players today. This is a great situation to be used as a springboard to head toward to the Bay Area, because those will be two tough games there.”
How are Markelle and Malik? - “Not sure about Malik. I don’t think there’s anything major with Malik but Markelle is fine. Tweaked his ankle but we have a day off tomorrow, we don’t play until Thursday…”
Scary? - “I just saw Malik go down. It was just a flurry of what happened. Matter of fact I saw Malik and then I happened to look. Someone said where’s Pat (Jenkins)? Our trainer. And I was thinking where is Pat? I turned around and he’s over there tending to Markelle because I didn’t realize Markelle was down.”
Did Malik hurt his knee? - “Finger. His finger was bent up a little bit.”
Shooting hand? - “I don’t remember which one it was.”
What changed today? - “I thought our approach, our outlook, our mindset changed. I thought we were able to do some things we hadn’t done as much - trapping and pressing today. We tried to speed the game up and I thought it was effective. But the trapping and the pressing without the proper mindset would not have been effective. But today I thought we had the right mindset going into the game.”
Is that a plan you can use against any team? — “I think we can use it again, but I don’t know if we can do it game-in and game-out and be effective. We hadn’t done it yet. I don’t think Oregon State prepared for it because we hadn’t done it. That’s all. If we had done it and shown it before I’m sure that they would have spent more time against it and practicing for it. We know we have that and can go to it when we need it or if we need it.”
On using Matt Atewe more - “Matt has been very good in practice as of late. Matt really didn’t play for two years. He couldn’t play, he couldn’t practice, he couldn’t do much. Last year he wasn’t able to practice at first but then he was cleared to practice as a redshirt. He had just been shedding the rust and in practice he had been doing a really good job. He gives us a physical presence. He just hadn’t had an opportunity to get in there. Today he played like the way he’s been practicing.”
On Crisp - “You look at the assists, but he’s our second-leading scorer. It’s the energy he’s bringing now. Dave has really started to emerge as a leader on this team. You can see it. It’s been good to see him do that and I think it’s been good for the team.”
On the pass off the glass and words for him - “I didn’t have a whole lot of words for him, to tell you the truth. I think it kind of spoke for itself. I know what he was trying to do, but that’s just one of the things we’re working hard to…that’s why I keep talking about the mindset of being businesslike out there. He knows. It wasn’t something where there was a grudge being held and you’re going to be benched the rest of the game…he only came out as a reminder, that’s all.”
On a team meeting Friday - “We always on the road all the time the night before we meet before the game, and last night we did. The content of the meeting was different than what we usually do. Usually we talk about the other team and last night we talked about the other team but we spent a whole lot more time talking about us and just tried to identify some areas where we didn’t change the mindset where things that had been happening to reoccur - and just tried to drive that point home.”
On Carlos Johnson - “He’s so strong and quick and has a knack for scoring the basketball. You can see that from day one with him. Carlos has been working to get better on the defensive end. We’ve talked about that. We had a freshman who played here once upon a time that was instant offense but had difficulty early on the defensive end and he finally got it - Terrence Ross ended up being a really good player. Carlos can score points and he can rebound the ball. But now he’s starting to understand defense and figure it out more, so he’s able to stay out on the floor a little longer.”
On Matisse Thybulle - “I thought Matisse played a very good game tonight. He hit his first few shots, four steals with us trapping and pressing and that’s right up his alley. He was able to get deflections and he just played a very solid basketball game. It was good to see Matisse play like that and our team is better when he plays like that.”
How close to a 40-minute game was today’s game? - “It was pretty close. I’d say about 35 (minutes). There was a stretch in the second half where they probably scored 8 out of 10 times. We were up 30 at the time and we just kept trading baskets. Aside from that I thought our guys did a pretty good job.”
On finding something today - “If we found something, it’s the right mindset, the right approach if we found something. Even when it’s positive I still look at patterns. We’ve got to see when we go on the road, we’ve got to see what happens Monday at practice, all of that. See if we’re prepared to built on what happened today.”
What would the next successful step look like? - “We’re able to close games out. We were up with six minutes to go in the first half maybe 16 - I don’t remember - but we talked to our team about in game it’s been a pattern we don’t finish the halves out very well. We give up leads, teams close gaps on us. But we didn’t do that this time, so I thought that was progress. But to be able to close out game, to be in that situation where you’re up six with 10 minutes to go and you double your lead, the score is tied and you go up and maintain your lead…we have to be able to do that. And we have to start trying to do that on the road, which is not easy.”
David Crisp and Matisse Thybulle
What was different about tonight? - “Starting 0-2 we all came together, had a meeting and it was like - we draw the line here. Everybody’s got to buy in, reset our foundation and everybody is locked back in. Hopefully we can build off that.”
On the game changing with the pressing - “We knew they really didn’t want to play fast so tried to speed them up with our length and our athleticism. We know we can cause problems pressing teams. We tried to do that in this game and it paid off.”
Would you rather play that way? - “Yeah. Anytime you get a team outside their comfort zone we’re going to do that. A lot of teams can’t handle pressure well. We feed off that, getting stops and all that stuff. I’m confident in our defensive abilities, we can turn anybody over.”
On the team meeting - “After the Oregon game people talking to each other and last night we all came together and said this is what it’s going to take, everything you’ve got and then some.”
Who called the meeting? - “It was the coaches, but everybody knew we needed it.”
On the pass off the glass - “Initially when it came to me I thought I was going to get a bang out! And I saw Markelle coming and I was okay. I told him backboard and the dude heard. In the future I’ll just lay that up myself.”
What was the conversation like about it, if any? - “He knew if I could get that one back I would. I knew how he felt. He didn’t have to say anything to me. I saw the jacket on the ground so he didn’t have to say anything to me.”
On it being a heat-check moment considering how well the game had been going for UW up to that point - “I got in a groove with my assists and I was feeling good getting in the lanes and I was like, okay I can get another one’. But yeah, didn’t work out.”
On the flash plays coming back - “We haven’t really full-court pressed anybody in a little while. Once we did that it picked up the pace and we got out in the lanes. Everybody played more with a sense of urgency this game. Everybody wanted to get rebounds and kick out so we can run on the breaks because we’re a good transition team. If we can’t get out you’re not going to be able to see that.”
On Carlos Johnson - “He’s tough. And he’s such a team player. Whatever he’s got to do to help the team win - if he’s got to cheer on the sideline or come in and just rebound - he’s willing to do it all. He’s capable of doing a lot of stuff. He’s athletic, he can shoot it. Lately he’s been hitting a lot of threes. I told him just shoot that confident. In practice he knocks them down, so he’s been getting some good shots now too. He’s got like big man strength in a guard’s body. He came into camp around 270. Then he cut that weight down, turned everything to muscle and now he’s going to be hard to stop when he gets you in that paint.”
On diving for loose balls and having that kind of energy early - “Yeah, that’s huge. That’s Husky Basketball. That’s got to be our identity. If somebody dives on the floor that’s got to be when everybody’s cheering and going crazy. Obviously on a dunk everyone does that but those type of plays, those are winning plays. Championship plays.”
What was working well for you early? - “I’m confident in myself as a shooter, but it helps when these guys find me wide open in the corners or trailing for threes. Any basketball player can say they can stand out there and knock down a wide open shot, and they just helped me get them.”
On the bigs working hard today - “Drew Eubanks is a great player and he works the whole game. For our guys, Matt especially, to step up having not played a lot of minutes, we were pretty proud of him.”