The University of Washington Huskies men’s basketball team ( 10-3) finished its nonconference schedule with a nail-biting 66 to 61 win over the Montana Grizzlies( 7-5) Friday night at Alaska Airlines Arena. The game was a basic microcosm of the Dawgs nonconference season. Bright, encouraging moments coupled with some perplexing head-scratching performances.
While the Huskies blew a 12-point lead, allowed 20 offensive rebounds committed 18 turnovers against the Grizzlies, head coach Mike Hopkins was happy the team found a way to win .
“But for the most part they found a way. I can’t tell you how proud I am. Obviously, we still got a long way to go before January. We’ve won some close games, and we were lucky tonight that we didn’t let one bite us. But I got to give our guys a lot of credit. They made the plays they had to.”
Montana had its chances late to pull off its second upset of a power conference team on the road this season. The Grizzlies won at Pittsburgh to open the season but scored just one point in the final 4:14 against the Huskies. It was a disappointing conclusion to a gutty effort.
“I mean, we fought, and that is the only thing you can ask for in this type of game,” Montana guard Ahmaad Rorie said. “It was hostile, and a lot of guys had never really played in this kind of environment. We’ve just got to clean up some little things to get better.”
Husky Freshman Jaylen Nowell scored a team high 13 points and Hameir Wright added 11 points, five rebounds and four blocks off the bench as the Huskies overcame their sloppy play with stiffing zone pressure defense that held Montana to just one point in the final four minutes of the game.
The Huskies will begin the conference with two road games, December 29th at USC (8-4) and December 31st at UCLA (9-3). The Huskies first home conference game will be Saturday, Jan 6th when they host the Washington State Cougars. The Huskies three nonconference losses were to Providence( 70-77), Virginia Tech (103-79) in the 2K Classic and a humiliating 97 to 70 home loss to Gonzaga. The Huskies brightest nonconference win was a 74 to 65 upset of Kansas.
“I think we’re as ready as anybody in our league,” Hopkins said after Friday’s game . “We played a very tough schedule. These teams that we played are really good teams, could be potentially NCAA tournament teams. We played different teams. We played 4-outshooting teams. Those two guards for Montana (Ahmad Rorie and Bobby Moorehead) are Pac-12 guards. They’re really talented and they got a really big guy.”