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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

November 29, 2014 at 12:50 AM

Three Impressions: Washington 80, Long Beach State 70

Long Beach State guard Tyler Lamb (1) has his pass batted down by Washington center Robert Upshaw (24) in the first half of the Huskies' 80-70 win Friday. (Photo credit: Alex Gallardo - AP)

Long Beach State guard Tyler Lamb (1) has his pass batted down by Washington center Robert Upshaw (24) in the first half of the Huskies’ 80-70 win Friday. (Photo credit: Alex Gallardo – AP)

Washington relied on a suffocating 2-3 zone defense and clutch shooting in the final minutes to overcome a nine-point deficit midway in the second half and defeat Long Beach State 80-70 on Friday in the semifinals of the DirecTV Wooden Legacy at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Gym.

The Huskies, which improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2009, meet UTEP (4-0) in the title game 7 p.m. Sunday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. UW is gunning for its first out-of-state holiday tournament since 2004.

Here’s five quick impressions from Friday’s game.

Triple-double energy is real – Sometimes it’s easy to forget about sophomore point guard Nigel Williams-Goss even on a night when he nearly posts a triple double because Robert Upshaw set a tournament blocks record and Andrew Andrews came through in the end with clutch shooting. But the Huskies don’t win this game without Williams-Goss who played all but two minutes. He carried them early while scoring 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. He provided three big three-pointers. He delivered a season-high 12 assists, including helpers on each of UW’s final four baskets in the last five minutes. He’s had at least six assists in every game this season. Williams-Goss also snagged seven rebounds. It seems almost a done deal he’ll record Washington’s first triple double this season. The referees didn’t help Williams-Goss when they gave him a foul for throwing an elbow although replays showed LBSU’s Mike Caffey flopped on the play.

In the zone – If you’re handing out game balls, save one for coach Lorenzo Romar. The Huskies trailed 54-45 with 13:52 remaining and was on the verge of being ran out of the gym when Romar switched defensively to a 2-3 zone. It’s the first time this season Washington has used a zone for an extended minutes. The defensive change worked. Long Beach State never solved the zone and four minutes later UW tied the score 57-57. The zone was particularly effective with Upshaw (7-0), Jernard Jarreau (6-10), Donaven Dorsey (6-7), Mike Anderson (6-4) and Williams-Goss (6-3). The 49ers shot 41.8 percent (23 of 55) for the game, but they were 22.2 percent (4 of 18) against UW’s zone. Leading 65-62 with 5:04 left, Long Beach State had just one field goal the rest of the way and was outscored 18-5.

Better late than never – When it seemed as if Andrew Andrews was mired in a second straight shooting slump, the senior guard raised up and drilled two three-pointers in the final three minutes to seal the victory. Andrews had made just 1 of 8 shots when he drained a three-pointer in front of the UW bench that gave the Huskies a 69-64 lead with 2:46 left. On the ensuing possession, he drew an offensive foul on Tyler Lamb for a LBSU turnover. A minute later, Andrews buried another three-pointer from the same spot that gave UW a  72-65 lead with 1:22 left. Andrews finished with 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Mike Anderson is invaluable – Anderson scored 13 of his season-high 16 points in the second half, when Washington needed someone to step up offensively. After the break he made 4 of 5 from the field, including two three-pointers. Anderson finished with five fouls and he spent a lot of minutes trying to defend Caffey, who finished with a team-high 18 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Anderson and Williams-Goss are the two constants for Washington who show up every game and give a passionate performance regardless of the opponent, venue, their individual numbers or the game’s circumstance.

Bye, bye high-post offense – I could be wrong, but I didn’t recognize many high-post plays Friday. The Huskies took a lot of quick shots – especially in the second half – which was partly responsible for their nine-point deficit. When they forced turnovers or missed shots, Washington also tried to score quickly in transition. And from what I could gather, the Huskies relied primarily on high screens for their halfcourt offense. Upshaw did a nice job setting screens because he has a big body. He’s also effective when he rolls to the basket and Williams-Goss connected with him for an alley-oop slam dunk early in the second half. Freshman Donaven Dorsey is also effective setting the screen in pick n’ pop situations because he’s a big guy (6-7) who can knock down outside shots. A staple of UW’s halfcourt offense also included Williams-Goss darting into the lane for floaters or passing outside to open shooters on the perimeter.



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