SEATTLE — At 7-foot-6, UC-Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye is the tallest player in college basketball.
That means almost no opponent has a precise match for him. However, the Washington Huskies had particular trouble Thursday and paid for it with an 86-72 loss at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The Anteaters blew open a close game with a 27-3 run through the closing minutes of the first half and the start of the second.
Junior forward Will David II led Irvine with 22 points. Meanwhile, Ndiaye, a freshman, made his presence known across the stat sheet: 18 points, nine blocks ad eight rebounds.
Much of the responsibility for guarding Ndiaye fell to UW’s 6-foot-9 transfer, Perris Blackwell, who tried to use muscle and leverage from 10 inches below. UW was playing without 6-foot-10 Jernard Jarreau, who suffered a season-ending right knee injury in the opener against Seattle U,
Senior C.J. Wilcox led Washington with 24 points. Mike Anderson came off the bench to lead UW with eight rebounds.
The game began with some early back-and-forth, before the Huskies inched ahead and held the Anteaters (1-2) at an uncomfortable arms length for most of the first half.
They seemed to be opening some ground when a Wilcox trey pushed UW ahead, 36-30 with three minutes left in the first half. However, the Anteaters ended the half with an eight-point cup, capped by a layup and free throw by Ndiaye just ahead of the buzzer to give the visitors a 38-36 lead at the half.
Irvine continued the run into the second half, and the Huskies were never able to cut the margin back into single digits thereafter.
The Washington (1-1) will conclude its season-opening three-game homestand at 5 p.m. Sunday when Eastern Washington visits Hec Ed.