SEATTLE — Mattise Thybulle and the Washington Huskies turned the long-range tables on cross-state rival Washington State.
Thybulle scored 18 points, including three 3-pointers, to go along with six assists and four steals to power UW to an 80-62 win Sunday, completing a season sweep of WSU in front of a sellout crowd at the Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Cougars, who entered the game second in the nation and first in the Pac-12 with 11.9 3-pointers per game, were just 6-of-24 from beyond the arc against Washington’s zone defense. The Huskies, on the other hand, were 11-of-25 from 3-point range.
“One of their strengths, why they beat Saint Mary’s and San Diego State, is they shoot the three ball,” said first-year Washington coach Mike Hopkins, who has installed the zone he learned as a long-time assistant at Syracuse. “And one of our things that we try to do is say we’re going to take away that strength. And we were able to execute that tonight.”
It was the second straight game UW shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range following an 11-percent (2-of-18) effort in the team’s last defeat, a 70-62 road loss to Utah.
“I’d say the biggest part is ball movement,” said Thybulle, who played a role in the Huskies’ notching 20 assists.
Beating WSU (9-11, 1-7 Pac-12) does more than give UW (15-6, 5-3) state bragging rights. This puts the Huskies into an interesting discussion — as in the NCAA Tournament.
UW entered the weekend a bubble team with ESPN having the Huskies on the “First Four Out” list of its latest Bracketology projections.
UW’s latest win could only help its case going forward.
The Huskies took a 45-30 lead into the half only to have the Cougars open 6-for-6 and cut the advantage to 49-44 with around 16 minutes left.
It was at this point when Thybulle began chipping away at WSU’s momentum. He made his way near the top of the key and launched a 3-pointer only to have the Cougars’ Milan Acquaah foul him. Thybulle’s shot went in and he drained the accompanying free throw for a 53-44 lead with 15:47 remaining.
Thybulle went inside for a dunk on UW’s next possession and quickly followed with a jumper. Thybulle’s stretch of eight straight points followed by buckets from Jaylen Nowell and Noah Dickerson gave Washington a 61-44 lead with 9:50 remaining.
UW’s unofficial knockout punch came when point guard David Crisp threw an alley-oop to Nahziah Carter for a dunk and a 68-49 lead with around seven minutes to play.
“Open shots. That’s what it was,” Dickerson said. “Instead of shooting rushed ones, we got open shots at the beginning and everybody got their rhythm going. So in the second half, you can try those contested ones a little bit.”
The Huskies had four players finish in double figures led by Thybulle. Nowell had 14, Dickerson was next with 13 and Carter had 11. UW shot 53.6 percent from the floor for the game.
Go back to when the Cougars and Huskies linked up earlier in the month.
Wazzu got up by as many as 10 points and UW, with most of its starting five in foul trouble, shot 73.9 percent from the floor in the second half to sneak out a 70-65 win at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman.
This time, the Huskies were aggressive from the jump.
UW raced out to an 11-4 lead within the first four minutes. WSU used a small run to take a 25-23 lead off an Acquaah jumper with 9:55 remaining.
It was all UW from there.
Nowell hit a jumper for a 29-28 lead and that was followed by Dickerson powering through for a dunk with 4:13 left.
Getting inside allowed the Huskies to operate from the 3-point line with near ease.
The 3-point shot was basically useless in the Huskies’ first contest against the Cougars. They were 2-of-12 for 16.7 percent and had only one attempt from distance in the second half.
UW hit four 3-pointers in a row during an 18-2 run to close out the half.
Thybulle launched the opening salvo and it set the stage for Dominic Green.
Green hit three straight 3-pointers and each one put the Cougars in a deeper hole. Dickerson was operating in the post when he found Green, who hit an open 3 right in front of the Wazzu bench for a 37-28 lead.
UW’s next possession led to Green getting free off the wing and draining another long-distance effort in front of the WSU bench for a 40-28 edge with around two minutes left.
Between Green’s 3-pointers and a scoreless drought, the Cougars were getting visibly frustrated. Dickerson drew a charge and on the next possession, Green hit another 3 for a 43-28 lead with 1:13 left.
“It’s not perfect but we’re getting better,” Hopkins said. “Tonight was just a really good night. The extra pass, playing for each other, playing for something bigger than themselves, I was happy they were able to do it in front our home crowd tonight.”