Noah Dickerson, the All-Pac-12 forward, finished with his first double-double of the season and tallied 24 points and 17 rebounds. It was his most dominant performance of the season.
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Noah Dickerson’s description of his first-half performance drew a few laughs from the post-game crowd.
“I was broke,” the Washington Huskies forward said smiling. “I couldn’t make anything. I couldn’t make nothing. But we just kept at it.”
The way this game started, it looked as if UW would have difficulty keeping pace offensively with Texas A&M.
“It just felt like nothing was going our way,” coach Mike Hopkins said while noting UW missed 13 of its first 15 shots and shot just 23 percent in the first half. “Couldn’t make layups. Getting good shots and we weren’t making them. We just kept telling them you just got to keep fighting.”
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Behind a dominant performance from Dickerson, who finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds, Washington rallied once again in the second half for a hard-fought 71-67 victory on Tuesday night in its second game at the Vancouver Showcase.
It was the third straight win for the Huskies (4-1) and the third time they overcame a halftime deficit. UW has been behind at the break in four of its five games.
“I kept telling them, the tougher team is going to win this game,” said Hopkins who collected his first technical foul of the season midway in the first half after yelling at an official. “It’s not about making shots. It’s about defending. Rebounding and loose balls.”
In the metrics that mattered to Hopkins, the Huskies came out on top. They outrebounded the Aggies 44-39, including 23 on the offensive glass. UW also forced 13 turnovers while committing 11.
And thanks to Dickerson, Washington’s frigid cold shooting thawed a bit in the second half when it converted 11 of 22 from the field.
“I was missing layups,” said Dickerson who was 2 for 9 shooting in the first half. “I don’t know what to tell you. We just kept at it. … In the second half, we kept boarding. Kept getting shots and eventually they’re going to start falling.”
Dickerson, who had been slowed by a knee injury that was sustained in a preseason practice, had his best outing of the season.
The 6-foot-8 senior entrenched himself deep in the paint beneath the rim and repeatedly spun, twisted and contorted around defenders for a season high in points and rebounds. He also converted 10 of 17 free throws.
Dickerson made 5 of 10 shots from the field in the second half, but none were bigger than a contested layup after he was fouled. He made the ensuing free throw that gave Washington its first lead at 56-55 with 9:18 left in front of a partisan UW crowd of 3,070 at the Vancouver Convention Center.
Washington, which fell behind by 13 in the first half and was down 38-33 at the break, never trailed again.
Hopkins gushed about Dickerson and compared him to Hall of Fame center Moses Malone, who had a penchant for grabbing rebounds after missing shots. Most of Dickerson’s 11 offensive rebounds came on his layups that rattled out of the rim.
“He just kept playing and didn’t get frustrated if he didn’t make it,” Hopkins said. “It was keep battling, keep going at it and he did.”
After the Huskies went ahead 59-55, the Aggies didn’t go away easily and cut their deficit to one point at 59-58 when Dickerson wiggled free for a dunk that sparked a decisive 8-4 run over a 7-minute span.
Washington led 67-62, but Texas A&M made things interesting at the end and cut its deficit to three with 1:05 left.
Washington sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell, who scored 32 points in his last outing, canned two free throws in the final minute to keep the Aggies at bay. He finished with 14 points.
Ahead by three with seven seconds left, Dickerson missed two free throws. On the ensuing possession, UW fouled Jay Jay Chandler (21 points) before Texas A&M could attempt a three-pointer.
Chandler made the first free throw and missed the second on purpose, but he drew a lane violation penalty to give UW the ball. Matisse Thybulle capped the scoring at the other end with two free throws.
It was the fourth straight loss for Texas A&M (1-4), which received 17 points from TJ Starks.
The Huskies’ staunch second-half defensive performance when they held the Aggies to 11 of 32 shooting (34.4 percent) partly overshadowed another spotty offensive outing.
Dickerson and Nowell combined for 38 points on 11-for-28 shooting. The rest of the Huskies were 9 of 33 from the field for 33 points.
The scarcity of reliable scoring options could be a problem when Washington plays Minnesota (4-0) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in its final game in Vancouver.
“I just got to give our kids a lot of credit for just battling,” Hopkins said. “They played tough. They went to the offensive glass the best we’ve ever gone. It wasn’t pretty, but we fought. I felt like we took a step forward as a team tonight.”