Though 11 games, it’s clear Washington can win games. All Mike Hopkins wants is for his team to get results in a less dramatic fashion.
UW overcame poor shooting stretches to take a seven-point lead. Only to lose it, go down by three and put the game in the hands of Noah Dickerson, who played the final two minutes with four fouls.
Dickerson, who did not foul out, scored 13 of his team’s final 15 points in a 80-77 win over Loyola Marymount on Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“We just can’t keep putting ourselves in those situations,” Hopkins said. “There are so many times when we get up by seven or we make a great run and we just give it back. ... It’s hard but they’re great learning experiences for our team as well.”
Dickerson’s heroics began when he hit a jumper for a 68-67 lead with 4:48 left. He would hit five straight free throws for a 72-70 lead.
After the Lions (5-5) tied it at 72-72, Dickerson powered through for a dunk for a 74-72 edge with 1:21 left.
The junior forward finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds. He was 5 of 9 from the field and 10 of 12 from the free throw line.
“Just the plays my teammates were making,” Dickerson said. “I was just getting dunks. These guys looking for me helps me out and I practice free throws every day.”
UW got a stop on the other end to set the stage for star freshman guard Jaylen Nowell. The former Seattle Garfield High star, who scored a team-high with 21 points, drove to the basket only to hit a fade-away jumper for a 78-72 lead with 33 seconds left.
“I always have confidence in my shot,” Nowell said of his important jumper. “I don’t really have doubts. Because I know especially with (Dickerson) being down low, he’s going to get the rebound if I miss it.”
Dickerson would hit four more free throws down the stretch to seal the game and bring the Huskies within one win of tying their overall total from last year.
UW has two remaining games against Bethune-Cookman and Montana before starting Pac-12 play. Should the Huskies win those games, they’d be at 10 victories going into conference contests.
Getting those wins hasn’t been easy. The Huskies are winning games by a margin of 0.4 points, which is 165th nationally.
As Hopkins said, the Huskies have struggled to hold onto leads and put teams away.
Sunday presented a few more tasks.
Any progress UW attempted to make in the first half was slowed by a mix of foul trouble and poor shooting.
LMU (5-5) was able to draw charges and, in turn, it’s why UW had more than 10 fouls with less than six minutes left in the opening frame.
Dickerson, Carlos Johnson, Matisse Thybulle and Sam Timmins were each hit with two fouls before halftime. Timmins would foul out with both teams combining for 51 fouls.
Those issues were only compounded by the Huskies finishing 0 of 11 from the floor over the final seven-plus minutes of the half.
Missing shots allowed the Lions to climb back from their slow start to take a 26-25 lead when James Batemon, who scored a game-high 29 points, hit an open 3 with 3:48 left.
UW was running its offense and finding good, clean looks. Nowell and Thybulle missed two open 3s from the wing with David Crisp hitting iron on a 3 from the top of the key to push the streak to 0 for 9.
The Huskies shot 32.1 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from 3. UW was 6 of 14 from the free throw line for 46.2 percent.
Nowell, after the Huskies missed their first shot of the second, ended the 0 for 12 streak with a runner in the lane.
“I think the really cool thing about this team is we have a good mixture of upperclassmen that are really talented,” Hopkins said. “And we have a good mixture of younger guys that I think are just going to keep getting better and better as this season prolongs.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark