Nowell returned to the starting lineup and scored 21, and Dickerson scored 13 of his 20 points in the final five minutes of the 80-77 win over the Lions.

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Saddled with foul trouble, Noah Dickerson was a non-factor for most of the first half against Loyola Marymount and its 7-foot-3 center Mattias Markusson.

Not surprisingly, the Washington men’s basketball team trailed by six points at the break against Loyola Marymount (5-5) while its big man was 0 for 2 on field-goal attempts and struggled to stay on the floor.

Despite playing with a sore ankle, Dickerson literally regained his footing in the second half and led the Huskies to an 80-77 nonconference victory on Sunday in front of 4,856 at Alaska Airlines Arena.

The 6-8 junior forward scored 13 of his 20 points in the final five minutes, including the baskets that put UW ahead for good and a pair of free throws in the final seconds that sealed it.

“I hit the dump spot every single time (teammates) were driving, and I was just getting dunks,” said Dickerson, who converted 5 of 9 field goals and sank 10 of 12 free throws. “These guys looking for me just helps me out.”

He also finished with eight rebounds in 26 minutes and was one of UW’s unlikeliest heroes considering a forgettable first-half performance.

Washington led 16-9 early, but Dickerson collected his second foul and sat out the final 7 minutes and 43 seconds. Without their No. 1 low-post threat, the Huskies converted just 1 of 13 field-goal attempts for the rest of the first half and relied almost solely on perimeter shots that didn’t fall as frequently as they did in the opening minutes.

Washington didn’t score a field goal in the last 7:19 of the first half and went into halftime down 34-28.

“They are kids, 18, 19, 21-year old kids, (and) sometimes a call here or ‘I didn’t get the ball or they fouled me’ … whatever it may be can take you out mentally,” UW coach Mike Hopkins said. “We’ve just got to be better at that. Sometimes (Dickerson) gets discouraged, but he’s a guy where, in the second half we need him.”

Hopkins smiled as he recounted his halftime speech: “BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP.”

“What did we say in the second half?” Hopkins said. “We’ve got to get it to Noah. We’ve got to get to the foul line, and we’ve got to create some tempo. Noah’s one of the best big guys in the country; we’ve been playing through him all year and he was 0-2 in the first half. He needs more touches.”

Trailing 68-65 with less than five minutes left, Dickerson scored 13 of the final 15 points for Washington.

On a feed from freshman forward Hameir Wright, Dickerson flushed a dunk with 1:21 left that put the Huskies up for good and gave them a 74-72 lead.

On their next possession, freshman guard Jaylen Nowell, who returned to the starting lineup and finished with a team-high 21 points, gave UW a four-point lead with 33 seconds left when he dribbled around Steven Haney and sank a midrange jumper.

Dickerson capped the scoring for UW with four free throws, including a pair with 5.8 seconds left.

The Huskies overcame a career-high 29-point performance from LMU junior guard James Batemon and a woeful performance at the free throw line where they converted just 22 of 36 foul shots (61.1 percent).

However, UW made 8 of its final 10 free throws thanks to Dickerson.

UW, which improved to 8-3, is 5-1 in games decided by 10 points or less.

Still, the Huskies squandered a seven-point lead with 6:46 left and fell behind in the final two minutes before Dickerson’s heroics.

“This team has grown in so many ways and I give them a lot of credit for fighting,” Hopkins said. “It could have gone either way. They made the plays that they had to, we made the foul shots when we didn’t make them in the first part of the game where we made them at the end.”