Noah Dickerson had 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Huskies to a 75-62 victory over the Trojans. The Huskies are 8-0 in the Pac-12 and have won 10 consecutive games.

Share story

This was a big hurdle for Washington.

Sure there are tougher challenges ahead, but the Huskies’ 75-62 win over USC might have been the statement victory they’ve been seeking all season.

The Trojans’ resume may suggest otherwise, but they looked like a Pac-12 title contender having won three straight games before Wednesday’s showdown between the top two teams in the conference standings.

And yet, this was a one-sided affair from start to finish as the Huskies frustrated USC all night long while cruising to their 10th straight win.

“One of our tag lines is ready for anything,” coach Mike Mike Hopkins said. “That’s how we train them. Team can throw anything at you and we’re going to be resilient.”

Washington improved to 17-4 and 8-0 in the Pac-12 for its best conference start since the 1952-55 season.

The Huskies also ran their record to 11-0 at Alaska Airlines Arena in front of 9,121.

“The way that we practiced the last two days I was a little concerned,” Hopkins said. “Being 7-0. Going to have a great crowd. You could see we were a little bit juiced today.

“A couple of our shots went long that was probably because the crowd was so great and there was so much anticipation for this game. But for the most part, that energy on the defensive end was huge for us, especially in the beginning.”

For the second straight game, the Huskies jumped out to a big lead, withstood several comeback attempts and never trailed for double-digit win.

In its previous outing – a 79-69 win at Oregon State last Saturday – Washington stymied the Beavers with its 2-3 zone defense and a balanced offensive attack that featured four players with at least 11 points.

The Huskies followed a similar script Wednesday, which included Noah Dickerson returning to a starring role.

The all-Pac-12 forward, who had been mired in a little bit of a scoring slump the past month, broke out for a team-high 21 points and 14 rebounds.

“We’ve been going with what works and every night its someone else,” said Matisse Thybulle finished with 17 points, six rebounds, seven steals and two blocks. “Tonight Noah got to dominate.

“We’ve seen Sam (Timmins) and Sam has been playing great the last few games. … When we’ve got everyone who can score and be a problem, then it’s tough.”

It was the first time Dickerson led the Huskies in scoring in a Pac-12 game and truth be told, he had grown tired of teams swarming him with double teams in the post.

So when the Trojans defended him straight up with 6-foot-11 center Nick Rakocevic, Dickerson savored the opportunity.

“I’ve been waiting for that,” he said. “We’re one of the best shooting teams in the Pac-12, so eventually I knew because of that they were going to stop helping off so much. We hit a couple of threes in the beginning. I started passing out and they started playing me 1-on-1.

“I like 1-on-1. It’s a lot easier. … It’s just nice having space to play again.”

Dickerson, who showcased his trademark spin moves for layups, converted 7 of 10 field goals against the Rakocevic, a Pac-12 player of the year candidate. The UW forward also drew nine fouls and made 7 of 10 free throws.

“We were sharing the ball,” Hopkins said. “We were working it and he was the key to that a couple of times. When he’s confident and he has the look in his eyes he’s a tough guard.

“We kept going to him and feeding him and he produced. He was big time tonight.”

Dickerson and Thybulle did most of their scoring damage inside while David Crisp, who had 14 points, and Jaylen Nowell, 12, each hit two three-pointers.

For the sixth straight game, the Huskies raced ahead early and built a 15-4 lead while USC converted one of its first five shots from the field.

Then the Huskies’ offense went cold as the Trojans used an 11-2 run to close the gap to 17-15.

Dickerson scored four straight points on a mid-range jumper and two free throws to start 17-3 spurt for the Huskies.

Nahziah Carter sailed over a USC defender for a crowd-pleasing acrobatic offensive rebound and finished the run with a putback that gave UW a 34-18 lead with 1:42 left before the break.

Ahead 36-25 at halftime, Washington gave up a 10-2 run to start the second half. After Rakocevic’s layup and free throw, USC trailed 38-35.

It was the closest the Trojans would get the rest of the way.

“Even when they cut it to three, we were able to make a couple of plays to get back in there and make that run and get the crowd involved,” Hopkins said. “That’s why I think we won tonight. The crowd, for sure. A big part.”

The Huskies answered with four big baskets during a 10-2 run to regain control.

Thybulle hit a three-pointer, Dickerson got free for a dunk on a scramble play, Crisp drained a corner three-pointer and Dickerson scored again on a layup for a 48-37 lead with 13:47 left.

“He called us together when they were shooting free throws and said ‘we’re good,'” Dickerson said pointing to Thybulle. “Let’s lock back in on the defensive end. When we’re locked in on defense, we get easy layups and transition buckets. That’s probably the easiest way to score.”

The Huskies surrendered 22 points to senior forward Bennie Boatwright and Rakocevic finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but it was a quiet night offensively for the other seven Trojans who combined to score 24 points.

And it was a particularly rough homecoming for USC senior guard Shaqquan Aaron and freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr. – a pair of former Rainier Beach High stars – who finished with four and six points respectively.

Trojans coach Andy Enfield bickered with officials throughout the game and at times the USC players lost their composure and appeared rattled by the second largest UW crowd this season. USC (12-9, 5-3) is 0-5 in road games.

It’s hardly a surprise any more when Washington disrupts the opposing team’s three-point attack considering opponents shot just 28.4 percent behind the arc during UW’s previous nine wins.

This time the Huskies held the Trojans to 1-for-7 on 3-pointers in the first half and 4 of 9 in the second when USC was trying desperately to get back into the game.

Perhaps a bigger story was Washington’s ability to dominate the rebounding battle 40-28 thanks in large part to Dickerson. The 12-boards differential was the largest this season for UW.

The Huskies collected 17 offensive rebounds, which led to a 24-10 discrepancy in second-chance points. And UW outscored USC 16-0 in fastbreak points.

“When we’re active defensively, and the crowd is involved and we’re flying around and playing with our principles, I see a lot of teams get frustrated,” Hopkins said. “I just thought we were active. We did a really good job in the first half finding out where Boatwright was. He made a deep three.

“But for the most part we did a really good job there. We kept them out of transition, which was a big part. … They had zero points in transition, which was huge. When teams have to play against us in the half court, it could be a tough night for them.”

Washington hosts UCLA (12-9, 5-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).