Nowell scores 18 as Washington holds off San Diego 66-63
SEATTLE (AP) — Playing its third game in a week to open the regular season, with an eventful cross-country trip thrown in, Mike Hopkins was anxious about what Washington was coming home to face in San Diego.
Turned out Washington's coach had every right to be anxious.
"It was really scary to be honest with you," Hopkins said. "The staff, we were just trying to find energy."
Washington led 55-47 with 10 minutes left, but watched the Toreros turn the final seconds into an uncomfortable finish for the home team. Nowell's two free throws with 25 seconds left ended up giving the Huskies (2-1) the cushion they needed and forced San Diego to try a contested 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
Tyler Williams had a look at a corner 3-pointer for the Toreros, but it hit off the front rim and the Huskies were able to escape with the victory.
"We had an action drawn up and they sat on it. ... I thought Tyler got a pretty good shot up all things considered. Tyler's made three game winners in his career so when he let it go I thought it was going in," San Diego coach Sam Scholl said.
Nowell hit 6 of 11 shots, but Washington's offense again lagged. Nahziah Carter added 11 points off the bench.
Olin Carter III led the Toreros (2-1) with 17 points and Isaiah Pineiro added 14 despite foul trouble that limited his time in the first half. Yauhen Massalski had 12 points and 11 rebounds and helped the Toreros take a 32-31 lead at halftime.
San Diego scored 16 straight points that spanned the end of the first half and opening minutes of the second and took a nine-point lead with 16 minutes left. That's when Washington erupted on a 19-2 run that appeared it would be enough to shake the Toreros. Hameir Wright's 3-pointer gave the Huskies a 55-47 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
But San Diego didn't go away, scoring 12 of the next 14 points and taking a 59-57 lead on Isaiah Wright's 3. Dickerson pulled Washington even at 59-all and two free throws from Hameir Wright gave the Huskies a 61-60 lead. Washington's final seven points came at the free throw line, but it was Nowell's final two that proved the most important.
Massalski was fouled with 29 seconds left and the Toreros trailing 64-62. He hit the first but the second free throw rimmed out. Nowell was fouled and hit both free throws, and Washington escaped. The Huskies were 15 of 17 at the line for the game.
"We have to play with that sense of urgency for longer periods of time," Hopkins said. "How many times did we get eight-point leads and we gave it back? That's stuff from last year and we have to grow from that."
Washington's road trip and loss to No. 9 Auburn was forgettable for multiple reasons. First, the Huskies played poorly in the 88-66 loss that dropped them out of The AP Top 25. Turned out that was just the start. Freshman Elijah Hardy broke his left hand in the few moments he played against the Tigers and is likely to miss six weeks. And the Huskies bus caught fire as it made its way to the airport for the charter flight back to Seattle. The majority of Washington's gear and equipment was undamaged in the fire.
San Diego: The Toreros first foray against a Pac-12 opponent this season has to be considered successful. The Toreros have three more chances to get a win against a Pac-12 team this season, including Colorado at home next week. San Diego won at Colorado last season.
"We're very critical of ourselves. We learn from it. We see it on tape, we take it in and then we make a vow we're not going to make those same mistakes again. That's all you can do," Scholl said.
Washington: The starting backcourt of Matisse Thybulle and Crisp had a combined 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting. That's not good enough for the Huskies to be successful offensively.
San Diego: The Toreros return home to face San Diego Christian on Thursday.
Washington: The Huskies begin play in the Vancouver Shootout on Sunday vs. Santa Clara.