BOULDER, COLO — An inability to own the interior, win the rebounding battle, hit the 3-point shot and find the best look possible is how Washington fell in the first game of its Rocky Mountain trip.
Using that same formula, however, is how UW left the mountains with a split. The Huskies used a 27-9 run late in the first half to get ahead and never looked back in a 72-62 win Saturday over Colorado at Sox Walseth Court at the Coors Event Center. UW (14-6, 4-3 Pac-12) ended a two-game slide after dropping consecutive contests against Stanford and at Utah.
“Listen, you’re just always trying to find ways to improve and inspire your team,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said. “The biggest thing is, I felt, we were getting our butts kicked on the glass.”
Let’s start there.
The Utes pulled down 44 rebounds to the Huskies’ 38 in a 70-62 loss Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Washington had 31 rebounds against Colorado (12-8, 4-4) by halftime and ended the game with 50. The Huskies had four players finish with more than eight rebounds, including junior forward Noah Dickerson.
Dickerson, in his previous two games, combined for 14 rebounds. He had 14 boards to go with 10 points against the Buffaloes.
Colorado, after trailing by 13 points, cut the lead to seven twice only to feel the wrath of star freshman guard Jaylen Nowell.
UW got Nowell into isolation plays and, most times, he did something good. He hit a jumper in the paint for a 65-56 lead with 3:14 to go.
Nowell, with less than two minutes remaining, got into the lane and was fouled. He hit both free throws for a 67-58 lead that hushed a once-loud crowd.
The former Garfield High star finished with a game-high 19 points. He was 7-for-13 from the field and 2-for-5 from the 3-point line. He was a major reason why the Huskies scored 30 in the paint.
“Of course you can sense it when you’re playing,” Nowell said of quieting a crowd. “They’re yelling and I just wanted to make the right play every time down the floor.”
Huskies junior point guard David Crisp provided the final blow. The Tacoma native interrupted a play by poaching a steal and scoring on an uncontested dunk for a 69-60 lead with 46 seconds remaining.
Crisp also hit three free throws in the game’s final 28 seconds. He finished with 14 points, four assists and three rebounds on 4-for-7 shooting.
The Huskies shot 46.2 percent from the field and went 9-for-12 from the line in the second half. They also held the Buffaloes to 38.7 percent, making it the third straight game the Huskies have kept an opponent blow 40 percent in the second half.
“We’ve been using the word ‘poise’ a lot,” Hopkins said. “At the end of the game … we were playing the clock. I felt like we did a good job being poised.”
The Huskies’ afternoon ended much better than it started.
Poor offensive stretches have become a bit of a trademark in Pac-12 play. UW started off 2-for-11 despite trying a few new things.
Hopkins had the Huskies operate out of the pick-and-roll to find shots. Washington was moving the ball but the results weren’t there. Crisp fed a pinpoint pass to Sam Timmins down low only for the center to get stuffed at the rim.
Hopkins called a timeout with his team trailing 18-9 with a little more than eight minutes to go.
From that timeout, the Huskies went on a 27-9 run.
Dominic Green and Matisse Thybulle, off two assists, hit 3-pointers. Crisp and Dickerson scored on layups before Crisp came back with two free throws for a 23-18 lead with 6:14 remaining.
“A big thing for us is taking good shots,” said Thybulle, who scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while shooting 7-for-14 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3. “There’s a lot of times when we can get shots, open shots, and take them but they’re not great. I think today of we did a really good job of passing up good shots and taking great shots.”
Another Thybulle layup plus a Nowell 3-pointer pushed the Huskies’ lead to 28-21 with 3:48 to go.
Green scored six straight points before Nowell, on a isolation play, drove into the lane and hit a jumper for a 36-27 lead with five seconds remaining.
“We were just able to keep it going,” Nowell said. “Our energy picked up. As you could see in Utah, we didn’t pick up our energy. End of the day, we were able to get rebounds, locked them up and came out with the win.”