Washington avoided a third straight loss - just barely - and will try to gain some more momentum leading up to a challenging December stretch when it hosts UC Davis on Sunday. Following consecutive setbacks against Providence and Virginia Tech in the 2K Sports Classic in New York, the Huskies returned to open a four-game homestand with an 89-84 win over Seattle on Friday.
“For the most part down the stretch when we had to get stops - like the most important stops - they did,” first-year coach Mike Hopkins told reporters. “We’re learning.” Freshman guard Jaylen Nowell poured in 25 points - his third 20-point effort in five games as a collegiate - and Washington utilized 51 second-half points to outlast the Redhawks. It will need to tighten things up defensively in advance of a seven-game stretch to end 2017 that includes games against No. 2 Kansas, No. 17 Gonzaga, No. 10 USC and No. 23 UCLA. The Aggies, who were picked to finish second in the Big West after a 23-win campaign and an NCAA Tournament appearance last season, also present a challenge and have held three opponents under 60 points in a 3-1 start.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT UC DAVIS (3-1): Senior forward Chima Moneke led the Aggies to a 64-47 win over Sacramento State with 19 points and 15 rebounds, recording his third straight double-double but making just 6-of-17 shots. The Australia native is averaging 22.8 points and 11.3 boards, and he is joined by double-digit scorers Siler Schneider (12.5) and TJ Shorts II (12), both juniors. Shorts leads the squad in assists (4.3) and steals (2.3), while Schneider is 8-for-13 from beyond the arc for UC Davis, which entered Saturday ranked 14th in the nation in 3-point percentage (43.4).
ABOUT WASHINGTON (3-2): Nowell, who splashed onto the scene with a 32-point effort in the opener against Belmont, scored 11 of his team’s final 15 points to help hold off the cross-city rivals on Friday, and he has quickly established himself as a premier go-to guy in crunch time. “He’s just a winner,” Hopkins told reporters. “He’s got winning DNA. He wants the ball. He performs. It’s like the Belmont game where you could see it in his eyes. As a coach, sometimes you’ve just got to walk away and let it go because he’s feeling it.” Noah Dickerson is averaging 14.6 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds while fellow junior Matisse Thybulle registered a season-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting against the Redhawks.
1. Nowell made 12-of-13 free throws against Seattle and is 25-of-31 on the season.
2. Thybulle ranks second nationally with an average of four steals per game after notching a season high-tying five in Friday’s win.
3. This is the first meeting between the teams.
PREDICTION: Washington 78, UC Davis 69