Markelle Fultz finished with 30 points on 10-for-18 shooting, including 4 of 7 on three-pointers. He’s the first UW’s men’s player in the past 15 years to score at least 30 points in three consecutive games.
Markelle Fultz drew a comic-book superhero reference, which is a fairly apt description for the Huskies’ freshman star who has soared to dizzying heights recently.
And yet, as good as Fultz has been during a three-game stretch unlike any in recent school history, the Washington men’s basketball team is just 1-2 in those outings.
“Markelle was Superman out there at times,” coach Lorenzo Romar said after a 94-72 defeat Saturday against Utah. “There’s a lot on his shoulders. Sometimes you can take what he does for granted. We expect him to solve every problem out there on the basketball court.”
Fultz finished with 30 points on 10-for-18 shooting, including 4 of 7 on three-pointers. He’s the first UW’s men’s player in the past 15 years to score at least 30 points in three consecutive games.
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“I’m just trying to get these guys to follow my lead with my example,” said Fultz, who also had seven rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes to offset four turnovers. “If I’m on the court, I play hard and try to do the best I can even though I make mistakes. … I’m just trying to get into that leadership role.”
Despite the brilliant playmaking from the 6-foot-4 guard, who is projected to be the No. 1 choice in the NBA draft this summer, the Huskies never seriously had a chance against Utah.
“They did a good job of waiting for us to make that one mistake and taking advantage of it,” Fultz said. “We had too many mistakes in the first half and it’s hard to come back from.”
Unlike the last outing when Washington recovered from a 17-point deficit and pulled out an improbable overtime victory, the Huskies’ comeback fell short in front of 8,895 spectators at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Any leftover good vibes Washington had from the 85-83 overtime victory Wednesday over Colorado dissipated in a disastrous first half in which Utah did whatever it wanted to do offensively.
The Utes created opportunities for open shooters with crisp passing that led to 7-for-12 shooting on three-pointers.
However, the game was decided on UW’s inability to keep Utah out of the lane on dribble drives. The Utes scored 20 of their 39 field goals on layups or dunks.
They also outscored the Huskies 60-24 on points in the paint and won the rebounding battle 41-32.
“We get distracted by things that are going on in the game,” Romar said. “Just the makeup of our team right now, if certain things don’t go our way, we don’t have the wherewithal to stick with the course.”
Utah converted 67.7 percent from the field in the first half and took a 53-40 lead into the break.
Down by 18 points early in the second half, the Huskies made a charge much as they did in the previous two games.
Surprisingly, Washington’s run began with several stout defensive possessions while Utah misfired on six of its first seven shots in the second half.
Washington redshirt freshman forward Sam Timmins blocked Tyler Rawson’s midrange jumper, which started a fast break that ended with Fultz finding Dominic Green for a three-pointer that cut the deficit to 58-47 with 16:30 remaining.
A minute later, Noah Dickerson, who was saddled with foul trouble and played just 19 minutes, flushed a dunk in traffic to pull the Huskies to within nine points at 58-49. And David Crisp knocked down a three-pointer at the 13:15 mark to keep the margin at nine at 65-56.
However, each time Washington made a run, Utah countered and pushed its lead to double-digits.
“We were trading baskets too much,” said Fultz, who drained a three-pointer that pulled UW to eight points down (71-63) with 10:31 left.
The Utes responded with an 18-6 run over the next eight minutes to put the game away.
Utah guards Devon Daniels (10-of-13 shooting) and Lorenzo Bonam (10 of 12) each had 24 points, while forward Kyle Kuzama added 22 and 15 rebounds for Utah, which improved to 14-5, 5-2.
The Utes shot 60 percent from the field and held the Huskies to 37.3.
“I still think we can get better,” Romar said. “The air came out of the balloon tonight.”
Maybe for the Huskies (9-10, 2-5), but Fultz is soaring with 11 regular-season games remaining. He’s averaging 33.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists the past three games
“I’m talking to my teammates to keep them involved and keep their energy up and keep them believing, because I believe,” Fultz said.
|Pac-12 men’s standings|
|Arizona knocked off UCLA on Saturday to remain undefeated in conference play.|
|Fultz on a roll|
|The past three games for Markelle Fultz:|