Judging by the banter after Quade Green’s corner three-pointer in front of the opposing bench and Efe Abogidi’s post-dunk antics, it’s safe to surmise there’s a fair amount of bad blood between the Washington and Washington State men’s basketball teams.
Perhaps WSU sophomore guard Noah Williams, a Seattle native, threw a can of gasoline on the simmering feud between the state rivals in their previous meeting last year when he boldly stated “we run this city” after the Cougars’ win and regular-season series sweep.
The Huskies had a chance at a rebuttal Sunday, but fell behind late in the first half and didn’t muster anything resembling a rally in the second half before falling 77-62 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“Playing against Seattle, it just gets your flavor back when you come back home,” said Williams, the former O’Dea High star who is 3-0 against his hometown team. “You played on these hoops all your life, grew up in this gym. It’s just a good feeling. It’s a little more chippy every time you play against UW.
“It feels amazing. I feel like we’re unbeatable against the Dawgs. We’ve got the secret formula.”
The Cougars certainly stymied the Huskies defensively and turned the tables on UW with a harassing 2-3 zone featuring 6-foot-10 forwards Dishon Jackson and Abogidi.
“They had a lot of success playing with their four-guard lineup,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “If they were going to go that way, we had to make them pay on the glass and we were able to do that. They’re really hard to guard when they go small, but our advantage kicked in tonight.”
Washington (3-12, 2-8 Pac-12) entered the game averaging 83.5 points in the past two games – a pair of wins that snapped the team’s eight-game losing streak.
However, the Huskies fell flat offensively while shooting 38.2% from the field and getting outscored 42-22 in the paint.
“Just wasn’t crisp for the most part,” UW coach Mike Hopkins said. “We had some spots. We had a lot of guys taking a lot of contested, tough shots rather than sharing it. We’ve got to be better than that.
“Their zone was a big problem. It was the first time we’ve seen a lot of zone this year. I felt like we got a little stagnant. We didn’t get into the paint, but when we did do it we scored. But there were moments in the game when the ball stopped. It didn’t move. Player movement wasn’t there. A little disappointing for sure.”
Green scored 20 points on 7-for-18 shooting on field goals, including four three-pointers. However, Erik Stevenson (13 points) was the only other UW player in double-digit scoring.
Meanwhile, Washington State deployed a versatile offensive attack led by Isaac Bonton, who darted in and around UW’s 2-3 zone for a game-high 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Williams, who finished with 21 points, collected two technical fouls in the second half and was ejected in the final minute after a demonstrative gesture toward a UW player following a layup.
“When he’s wound up and playing hard, good things happen,” said Smith.
Abogidi had 13 points and 13 rebounds while Jackson added 11 points.
“They played tougher than us,” Hopkins said. “You gotta bring the heart. You can’t play cool. You gotta play like every possession is your last, with passion, with pride and most importantly you gotta play together. And I felt those areas, we were not as good as we need to be.”
Washington State (10-7, 3-7) entered the game with a six-game losing streak and had lost seven of its previous eight games after starting the season 8-0.
The Cougars needed just four minutes to go up 12-2 while UW’s big man Nate Roberts picked up his second foul and played just three minutes in the first half.
Washington, which missed four of its first five shots, recovered from a wobbly start and went on an 11-0 run to take a 13-12 lead with 12:10 remaining in the first half.
The lead changed twice before the Cougars wrestled away momentum for good thanks in large part to the interior play by Abogidi, who flushed a pair of dunks in traffic to energize the WSU bench.
When Abogidi wasn’t posterizing the Huskies, he sank a smooth-looking mid-range jumper along the baseline to extend Washington State’s lead to 11 points (35-24) with 1:59 left before the break.
Despite failing to connect on 12 three-point attempts, the Cougars went into halftime ahead 38-29 due in large part to a 26-12 points-in-the-paint disparity and shooting 10 of 14 on free throws.
At the half, the Huskies were 0 for 3 from the line and outrebounded 25-18.
“They were playing harder than us,” UW junior guard Jamal Bey said. “You’ve got to give all the credit to them. … We can’t let that happen. We put this jersey on to represent Washington. We can’t do that. We’ve got to fix that.”
Washington cut its deficit to eight points (40-32) early in the second half, but the Cougars answered with a 9-0 run to go up 49-32 with 15½ minutes left.
The Huskies never seriously threatened again and fell behind by 22 points (63-41) late in the game.
“They shot 51 percent from the field and made five threes in the second half,” said Hopkins, who lamented a 48-28 rebound disparity. “That’s just not good enough. There were some breakdowns. … They got every loose ball. They got free-throw rebounds with only one guy on the free-throw line. Not acceptable.”
Washington concluded its three-game home stand and heads on the road this week for Thursday’s game at Oregon State. On Sunday, UW is scheduled to play Oregon, which is on pause due to COVID-19 complications.
“We didn’t play as hard as our opponent and we didn’t play as together as we need to play,” Hopkins said. “It’s frustrating when you go out regardless of if it’s a rival or whoever you play. You have to go and play with your heart on your sleeve. And then you have to play for your teammates. I did not see a lot of that tonight.”