Washington fans got to see just about every side of the Husky's tonight. UW, despite playing only seven guys, finished with a gutsy 84-73 win in overtime against a streaky Big East foe. The Huskies raced out to a big lead with a 17-0 run in the first eight minutes, aided by 8 points and 2 assists by a very confident Abdul Gaddy during Washington outburst. UW continued their strong play and went into the half up 49-33. This was an incredible side of the Huskies. Washington was swarming defensively, jumping into the passing lanes and picking up 17 points off turnovers. Abdul Gaddy and Andrew Andrews looked very confident handling the ball. The confidence spread throughout the court on the offensive end, as Husky players were able to knock down jumpers and a run a reasonably effective high-post offense.
UW went into tentative and awkward mode in the second half. This allowed Seton Hall to attain a flow to their offense and resulted in the game being tied at 56 with nine minutes left. Romar called a timeout. A 16-point half-time lead had completely evaporated. The Pirates continued to momentum after the timeout by knocking down consecutive threes that put UW down six. Seton Hall kept that six point lead until only four minutes remained. Fans had effectively seen both sides of UW. The good, confident one and the tentative, awkward one. It is absolutely not a coincidence that Gaddy played confident in the first half and tentative in the second. Keep that in mind as the season goes on.
Washington found themselves down six in the last five minutes of a basketball game where they had previously been up by eighteen. The Huskies could have easily collapsed. They had no momentum. Seton Hall had been knocking down threes at a ridiculously efficient rate. UW did not give up. A Washington Husky team without a standout player found themselves in a horrible situation and responded in a big way. This is the kind of grit and toughness that Dawg fans fail to see early in the season. Overtime started strong, with Scott Suggs and Andrew Andrews knocking down three three-pointers. UW did not look back.
Road Win Necessities: Things teams need to do on the road to win: start fast (check plus), knock down free throws (check plus), limit turnovers (half check). UW opened the game firing on all cylinders and went up 17-5. They ended up needing every one of those points late in the game.UW went 22-26 from the free throw line. Seton Hall went 7-15. This was the deciding factor in the game. The Dawgs got to line and converted, while Seton Hall found themselves outside the arc and not getting to the line in the first half. I cannot say enough about the Husky's free throw shooting tonight. Simply incredible. UW dominated the turnover battle in the first half and had 17 points off TOs. The second half was a complete role-reversal. No wonder the Pirates forced OT.
UW Frontcourt: I really, really like the length on the Husky's frontline. N'Diaye and Jarreau are a forced to be reckoned with on the defensive end and altered countless Pirates dribble-drive shots. Desmond Simmons came off the bench in fantastic fashion and added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Dez had two huge buckets for the Dawgs late in regulation and definitely seemed the most confident at the elbow of the high-post offense (despite his horrific travel which we will not talk about). These three combined for 30 points and 25 rebounds (6 of which were offensive) while going 12-15 from the line. UW out-rebounded a tall Seton Hall team 35-27 and the three-headed front-court monster was the reason for this.
Late Game Toughness: Wow. I did not expect to see this from the Huskies. Losing a lead, having zero momentum and being down six with under five minutes remaining is normally a lost cause for the Dawgs. Hell, UW tends to struggle in games where they aren't even losing by more than three (see: Albany). This will be a big-time confidence booster for Washington and will definitely pay dividends as the season progresses.
Abdul Gaddy aka The X-Factor
Any Husky fans that had any doubt that this team goes as far as Abdul Gaddy takes them have now been proven wrong. This game will be a microcosm of the season. Gaddy played the kind of basketball that made him the #2 point guard in the country coming out of high school for the first twenty minutes. UW found themselves up 16.
Gaddy had 14 points and 5 assists at the break. Abdul did not score or have an assist in the second half. This team needs him to run a fluid half-court offense.
Meanwhile, Andrew Andrews finished with 8 points and 2 assists in 24 minutes. I can't understate how helpful it is for the Huskies to have two primary ball-handlers that can play together. Andrews will be a large help to Gaddy as the season goes on.
Assist to Turnover Ratio: This is becoming a common theme. 10 assists to 16 turnovers. Scott Suggs lead the way with five turnovers, which inevitably lead to him finding a seat on the bench for a hefty portion of the second half. At the beginning of the season I wanted to see UW had a 3:2 to 5:2 ratio, though that is a very lofty goal for any team. Now, I will settle for a 1:1 ratio. UW has not done this to date.
The Entire Second Half: This is pretty self-explanatory. The Huskies did almost everything in their power to lose this game, including Simmons' travel that gave Seton Hall a chance to win the game. Seton Hall made half-time adjustments. These adjustments were effective. UW did not change its' game plan. It was like watching a bird continuously fly into a glass window. Just stop, bird. It's painful to watch.
Washington had a huge bounce back win today. Looking back on it, if the Huskies lost they would have fallen to 1-2 before facing a tough Rhode Island squad that could have potentially put them at 1-3. This is a nice win to have. Any win on the east coast against a Big East team is a solid win. Honestly, all I can think about is upsetting Ohio State tomorrow. BOW DOWN.
UW vs #4 Ohio State. Sunday, November 18th. 1:30 P.M. PST. Mohegan Sun Arena.