At 7-foot-6, UC-Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye is the tallest player in college basketball.
That means almost no opponent has a precise match for him. However, the Washington Huskies had particular trouble Thursday and paid for it with an 86-72 loss at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The Anteaters blew open a close game with a 27-3 run through the closing minutes of the first half and the start of the second.
Junior forward Will David II led Irvine with 22 points. Meanwhile, Ndiaye, a freshman, made his presence known across the stat sheet: 18 points, nine blocks ad eight rebounds.
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Much of the responsibility for guarding Ndiaye fell to UW’s 6-foot-9 transfer, Perris Blackwell, who tried to use muscle and leverage from 10 inches below. UW was playing without 6-foot-10 Jernard Jarreau, who suffered a season-ending right knee injury in the opener against Seattle U,
Senior C.J. Wilcox led Washington with 24 points. Mike Anderson came off the bench to lead UW with eight rebounds.
Here's some of what the Huskies had to say afterward:
Coach LORENZO ROMAR"We didn’t have a whole lot of fun out there. Early on we gave up far, far too much dribble penetration, allowed them to stay right there with us. The game was close. They continued to score inside. They had a ton of points in the paint. … In the second half we just came out so flat. Mamadou, I don’t know, maybe played his best game in college, but he was a factor around the rim. The blocked nine shots. I think he got in our heads a little bit. They were sitting back in that zone, and he was a factor. Forty points between their two front line players is a killer. They shoot 60-something percent in the second half. We just didn’t do a very good job tonight defensively."
Forward PERRIS BLACKWELL "It was tough. That’s still not an excuse. We just didn’t come out with the same energy we had against Seattle U. and we can’t let that happen again. … He’s tall obviously. But we just didn’t execute the game plan as we planned it, and it cost us."
Guard C.J. WILCOX"We knew they were a good team. We battled in the first half: We had energy in spurts a little bit. But in the second half we came back a little flat. They made their run, they kept scoring. We just didn’t do a good job of keeping the guards out of the paint, which made it harder for (Blackwell) to try to help and then get back to that tree."
The game began with some early back-and-forth, before the Huskies inched ahead and held the Anteaters (1-2) at an uncomfortable arms length for most of the first half.
They seemed to be opening some ground when a Wilcox trey pushed UW ahead, 36-30 with three minutes left in the first half. However, the Anteaters ended the half with an eight-point cup, capped by a layup and free throw by Ndiaye just ahead of the buzzer to give the visitors a 38-36 lead at the half.
Irvine continued the run into the second half, and the Huskies were never able to cut the margin back into single digits thereafter.
The Washington (1-1) will conclude its season-opening three-game homestand at 5 p.m. Sunday when Eastern Washington visits Hec Ed.6:08 left:
UC-Irvine, 74-60. Mike Andrerson just nailed a three to make it that close.
14:29Anteaters blowing it open with 27-3 run that has pushed their lead to 57-39.
2nd/15:58 UC-Irvine opens half with a 13-2 run and lead, 51-38.
2nd/16:52 Anteaters open half with 9-2 run and are up on Huskies 47-38, the biggest lead of the night. Fifth and sixth blocks of the night by Ndiaye.
Second half: ... has just tipped. Both teams going with starting fives.
Halftime: Irvine's 7-foot-6 Mamadou scored and the basket, was fouled and made the free throw to cap an eight-point run andpush the Anteaters ahead, 38-36.
Wilcox leads UW with 13 points. Irvine's Ndiaye and Luke Nelson have eight each. Ndiaye also leads the Anteaters with five rebounds. Mike Anderson has four for the Huskies. UCI has 23-19 advantage on boards.
1st/3:47 UW, 31-28.
1st/7:26 Huskies up, 23-21. Leading most of the way, but Irvine hanging around.
Opening tip: ... not surprisingly Irvine's 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye gets it. We're uder way. Predictably small crowd on hand.
Lineup: Huskies going with Willims-Goss, Andrews, Wilcox, Blackwell and Kemp.
Pregame: A small crowd has trickled into Hec Edmundson Pavilion about 45 minutes before the Huskies' 8 p.m. tipoff against UC-Irvine. The game will be shown on Pac-10 Network and heard on 950-AM. We'll also have updates here, right through to the postgame quotes.
Here are the basics from this morning's News Tribune.