Mike Hopkins on UW’s win over Arizona
After Washington’s 67-60 victory over Arizona, Matisse Thybulle walked out of the visitor’s locker room, unwrapped a cough drop and leaned against the wall to address reporters.
When head coach Mike Hopkins appeared a few minutes later, his voice was hoarse. Hameir Wright was so sick he couldn’t even make it onto the floor for warm-ups. Dominic Green, who started in Wright’s place, was also fighting off the illness rapidly spreading through UW’s players and coaches.
And when it wasn’t a sickness, it was injury. Noah Dickerson, recovering from a sprained ankle he suffered against UCLA, played but didn’t start.
“This guy can barely breathe,” said point guard David Crisp, nodding his head toward Thybulle. “Obviously, you guys couldn’t see. He’s a warrior. Noah’s a warrior. Everyone’s a warrior.”
None of it mattered on Thursday night. Not the illnesses, not the injury, not even the fact that UW hadn’t beaten Arizona on the road since 2012. The Huskies just did what they’ve done every game of the Pac-12 season: They won.
The victory at McKale Memorial Center allowed UW to remain undefeated in conference play and stretched their winning streak to 12 games. The Huskies are just the sixth team to reach 10-0 in the Pac-12 since the 18-game format started in 1978-79.
“You got to gut it up and go out there and just compete,” Hopkins said. “Our guys did that tonight. I’m really, really proud of them.”
UW went into halftime with a slim 29-28 advantage. Arizona pulled ahead less than 15 seconds into the second half on two free throws from Chase Jeter. But that was the last time the Wildcats would have the lead.
The Huskies responded with a 3-pointer from Crisp, two free throws from Thybulle and a layup from Crisp. The 7-0 run gave UW a 36-30 lead, and that was all the breathing room the Huskies needed.
Arizona kept trying to come back — the Wildcats got as close as four points on several occasions — but UW always had an answer.
“To be able to get that six points lead and kind of keep it right around there, I think that was big,” Hopkins said. “Especially on the road, you never know what’s going to happen. Even late in the game, we were able to make some scores when we needed them.”
Said Crisp: “They took the lead and we just stayed together. .. .We got into the sets we wanted. We got good shots and we were making shots. That’s the formula for success.”
UW held Arizona to 35.7 percent shooting. The Wildcats shot 4-of-18 from the 3-point line, including 2-for-12 in the second half. Meanwhile, UW shot 51 percent from the field, 58.3 percent in the second half. The Huskies finished 7-of-20 from beyond the arc.
“You got to keep scoring on the road,” Hopkins said. “(Arizona) made it difficult. I thought they did a good job for the most part. … We did our job. We did what we’re trained to do.”
Despite playing through an illness, Thybulle finished with 15 points, five steals, five blocks, two rebounds and two assists.
“He’s like a lottery number,” Hopkins said of Thybulle’s stat line.
Crisp could only shake his head and laugh at Thybulle’s performance. He recalled the first time the two played against each other in high school when Thybulle blocked his first two shots. Crisp made the necessary adjustments in order to successfully get a shot off.
He’s surprised that UW’s opponents often don’t follow suit.
“It’s honestly funny,” he said. “You would think they’d be more aware. … When you got a guy like that, you feed off his energy. He sets the tone defensively. He’s the best I’ve seen at it. We just make sure we got his space. He’s got our back.”
Sam Timmins started the game in place of Dickerson, but Dickerson was on the floor for the beginning of the second half. He finished with 10 points, three rebounds and drew eight fouls. Seven of his points came in the second half.
“If we were going to play him and stick with him, depending on how his ankle felt, we had to let him have a chance,” Hopkins said. “He was huge. … We got a couple of drives and layups because of the way that they were playing him.”
Crisp finished with a game-high 17 points, while Jaylen Nowell had 12. Nahziah Carter added 10 points off the bench. Justin Coleman led Arizona with 16 points.
UW will now head to Arizona State on Saturday. With a win, the Huskies will secure their third road sweep of the season.
“It’s always great,” Crisp said. “Winning, obviously. Winning is always great. When you come into a great program like this, great arena, great environment and you pull out a tough win like that, it’s a complete team effort.”