SEATTLE — Energy, energy, energy.
That’s been the theme since head coach Mike Hopkins came to the University of Washington in 2017. And for the first 35 minutes of Saturday’s game against Oregon, the Huskies had all the energy and momentum on their side. Washington built a lead as large as 16 points in the second half.
“We brought (energy) from the start,” said UW freshman forward Isaiah Stewart. “I tried to bring it for my teammates.”
But Stewart’s game-high 25 points and 19 rebounds weren’t enough to push the Huskies past the No. 8 Ducks, who escaped Seattle with a 64-61 overtime victory.
Senior point guard Payton Pritchard was the hero for Oregon (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12), with a team-high 22 points, and it seemed like every deep 3-pointer he put up late in the game hit home. Much to the raucous crowds’ dismay, a few no-calls late in the game went Pritchard’s way, as he willed the Ducks to a win. With Jamal Bey’s hand in his face, Pritchard pulled up from way outside the 3-point line and hit the dagger with 3.4 seconds remaining in overtime
“Our number one focus in the whole game was Pritchard,” said Hopkins. “He’s an excellent player and the number one thing on the scouting report and we didn’t defend that too well.”
Pritchard and the full-court press that defines the Ducks’ defense were able to start chipping away at that Husky energy with 9:20 to play in the second half.
“The press ends up eroding your legs. I probably didn’t do a good enough job of managing that in the second half,” Hopkins said. “It was us making decisions and sometimes when you get fatigued you can throw it away, and when the legs go the mind goes.”
Stewart’s 19 rebounds were a career-high for him, and he notched his third double-double of Pac-12 conference play, and ninth on the season.
“It was like (Stewart) was going to will us to (win) the game,” Hopkins said.
The Huskies (12-7, 2-4) are still getting over the loss of point guard Quade Green, who was ruled academically ineligible last week. Despite that blow to the team’s depth, Hopkins thinks Washington has found its point guard of the future in freshman Marcus Tsohonis.
“I mean how good was Marcus Tsohonis in the first half?” Hopkins said. “I think Marcus has really solved the Quade issue.”
Tsohonis finished second on the team with 14 points, with 12 coming in the first half, and brought the energy and hustle that Hopkins loves so much to both ends of the floor.
Freshman Jaden McDaniels returned to the starting lineup after missing Thursday’s game against Oregon State with an ankle injury and finished with five points on 1-of-9 shooting for the Huskies.
High praise for Marysville Pilchuck alum
Tsohonis was asked if anyone in the league had better range than Pritchard. His answer, “RaeQuan Battle.”
Hopkins also spoke about the former Marysville Pilchuck star’s range and confidence from 3-point range.
“I love every time RaeQuan Battle shoots the ball. He can shoot it at half court if he wants to for me.”
After a career-high 11 points against Oregon State on Thursday, Battle finished with five points and shot 1 of 8 from the floor against Oregon. All eight attempts were 3-pointers.