Hopkins on UW's NIT victory: "We found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty. I said before the NIT is an energy tournament and our games, I thought played our hearts out."

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Mike Hopkins captured his first postseason win with Washington following a 77-74 victory over Boise State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday at Alaska Airlines Arena.

The No. 5 seed Huskies (21-12) snapped a two-game skid and advance to play at No. 1 Saint Mary’s 8 p.m. Monday on ESPNU.

Here’s video and quotes of the postgame interview with Hopkins.

MIKE HOPKINS:

(On the final minute of the game) “You’re going to give me a heart attack right now, to go over that right now. Our guys have been very aggressive. I was so happy the way that they came out with energy and aggressiveness. When we built a 10-point lead with 40 seconds to go we said no fouls. Just do not foul. They’re going to try to take it. They make two it two or three or take the ball out, we need the clock. We were still being a little bit too aggressive, which stopped the clock, put them at the line, set up their defense, all the things that you don’t want to happen. For the most part we found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty. I said before, the NIT is an energy tournament. Our guys played their hearts out, both teams did. It wasn’t perfect, but we played good enough defense in the first half to get that lead and it carried us to the end of the game.”

(On difference between the second quarter and the third quarter) “I just think that he’s a great coach and they have a championship program. They have one of the best players in the country that nobody knows about. I knew about it when we scrimmaged them the first time and went wow. Watching him in basketball, he can pass, he can dribble, he can shoot. He competes. He can drive. He rebounds. Championship coaches, championship programs, they never say die. You knew they were going to make a run. When they cut it to three, we did a good job to get it back up to 10 with the last 40 seconds. The cushion that we got in the first half I think saved us.”

(On any change in coaching strategy with quarters and five fouls) “I think it was the end of the first quarter we tried to go two-for-one, we haven’t tried to do that in a long time. Two-for-one could end up getting you four extra shots than your opponent so we tried it. Didn’t execute it great, but it was something that we just put in recently. It is, getting to that foul line. That foul game is huge. That’s where they beat us in the first half. They got us in foul trouble, they went to the foul line. That’s what we didn’t. But in the second half, in the third quarter we got them in early foul trouble and I think that’s where we were able to capitalize a little bit.”

(On Jaylen Nowell’s defense) “Jaylen (Nowell), he’s a great player and he competes. And he’s small back there. Boise, the one thing I will always remember about them the first time we played them in exhibition is they were so physical. You know you play a team and you feel them. They’re big, they’re physical, they’re boxing out and they’re all really well coached. Jaylen is over there looking like he’s 6’3 battling, those guys are monsters. He did a heck of a job. In the first half we talked about. Look at our stats. David (Crisp) had five rebounds. Matisse (Thybulle) had five rebounds. (Jaylen) had six rebounds. Dominic Green had seven. He had six at half time. That’s what you need in our zone and that was big, especially in the first half.”

(On handling late-game pressure) “I think in both games (against Oregon and Oregon State) we got in foul trouble. In Oregon State we lost Jaylen and Noah (Dickerson), you’re two best offensive players for the most part. We have to do a better job on that. We work on a lot of different situations. We’ve been great in most of our close games, we’ve won most of our close games. For the most part, you just can’t foul at the end of games. Don’t foul! What part of that don’t you understand? Do you not know that? At the end of the day these kids played hard and that’s the most important thing. The execution wasn’t perfect, but we got through round one against a really good team. I’m proud of our guys.”

(On advancing in a tournament) “I think the great thing is there are a lot of teams that aren’t playing and there are a lot of teams that have a chance to get better, play against great competition, see what you’re team is about. Tournament play, getting a chance to advance and play a great team in Saint Mary’s, another great program, probably should have been in the tournament. That’s how you grow. You grow playing on the road, playing at home, playing against the best. I think our game against Boise State at the beginning of the year was a great test for us as an exhibition game against a team that out physicaled us, out did everything, and taught us a lot about ourselves early. Coach Rice, I would call him and I would ask him about our team and he had been a great friend of mine and gave me some great suggestions. Those things, you learn from it. Just that experience, this experience, playing in a prestigious tournament like the NIT with so many great teams, there are eight to 10 teams – I looked at the bracket like ‘woah, are we in the NCAA Tournament?’ The teams, the programs, the opportunity, it’s all incredible stuff.”