SEATTLE (AP) — Washington head coach Mike Hopkins didn’t get the full 40-minute effort he hoped for from his team Friday night, but one strong half was enough to propel the Huskies to victory.
Noah Dickerson and Matisse Thybulle each scored 12 points, and Nahziah Carter added 11 off the bench as the Huskies overcame a sluggish first half to defeat Sacramento State 57-41 Friday night.
“Halftime allowed us to take a step back and take a breather, and realize that we weren’t doing what we were supposed to be doing,” Thybulle said. “We came out (in the second half) not messing around. We were ready to go.”
The Huskies (8-4) shot just 33 percent in the first half, including 0 of 11 from the 3-point line, but held Sacramento State (6-3) to 19 points after the halftime break as they improved to 6-0 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“We just came out flat,” Hopkins said. “I don’t know what it was.”
Washington flipped the script from the start of the second half, scoring the first 11 points of the period to quickly erase its 22-19 halftime deficit. The Huskies turned to their defense to create easy offense, forcing the Hornets into 21 turnovers, which they turned into 24 points. Thybulle led the Huskies with seven steals, and has now recorded at least one steal in 58 straight games.
“We were able to get some turnovers, get some easy baskets, get some flow,” Hopkins said. “Force them to speed up and take shots they didn’t want to take. . That was the key to the game.”
The Hornets led by as many as nine in the first half, taking a 20-11 lead on a layup by Marcus Graves with 6:16 remaining, as the Huskies went nearly eight minutes without a bucket. Dickerson flushed home a dunk to cut the UW deficit to 14-11 with 11:50 to play and the Huskies didn’t score another bucket until a David Crisp layup at the 4:09 mark.
“If we could’ve gone into halftime with an 8 to 10 point lead instead of three, that would have been huge,” Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said.
Joshua Patton and Graves led the Hornets with 12 points each. Sacramento State converted on just three field goals in the second half, and shot 26.1 percent for the game.
“That zone is no joke,” Katz said of the UW’s 2-3 zone defense.
Sacramento State: The Hornets entered the game tied for their best start in the program’s Division I era (1991-present). Even with the loss, they have their best nonconference winning percentage since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996.
Washington: Following a loss to No. 13 Virginia Tech, the Huskies were sluggish against a lesser opponent Friday but will have plenty of the time to correct their mistakes over the holiday break, as they won’t return to the court until Jan. 1.
Washington got a boost for the future with the reported addition of former Kentucky guard Quade Green, who could be eligible as early as January 2020. Green tweeted “UDUB” after visiting the school earlier this week, and told ESPN he was going to join the Huskies. The school cannot announce Green’s addition until all his transfer becomes finalized.
Carter provided eight of his 11 points in the second half on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting for his fifth double digit scoring effort of the season. The sophomore guard also added six rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes off the bench.
“I just try to pick up on the things we aren’t doing right out there and spark us.” Carter said.
The Hornets start their conference schedule hosting Northern Colorado on Dec. 29.
The Huskies will enjoy their holiday break before beginning the new year against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 1 in their final nonconference game of the season. Washington will begin Pac-12 play against in-state rival Washington State on Jan. 5.