Washington pulls away from Utah in second half for 82-70 win, advances to face USC
For the first 23 minutes of Wednesday night’s opening-round action between No. 6 Washington and No. 11 Utah, neither team could separate by more than two possessions. Back and forth we went. Each time Washington had a little bit of momentum, Utah had an answer.
The pressing, fastbreaking style the Huskies wanted to get to just wasn’t there. Utah did well to handle the zone, manage possession, and keep the Huskies from really running in transition.
Then for a stretch of play midway through the second half, Washington couldn’t miss. The Huskies ripped off a 22-7 run to go from tied with 16:56 to play to up 15 with 8:24 to play and never looked back. The Huskies walked away with an 82-70 victory to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 2022 Pac-12 Tournament, where they’ll face No. 3 USC.
Washington’s run, which included a 15-3 stretch, wasn’t aided by getting out and running, funny enough. It was halfcourt execution. Against a Utah zone, Terrell Brown Jr. got into the middle and distributed. He hit a tough pull-up in the lane. Cole Bajema (16 points, 5-9 FG) knocked down a triple from the left wing. Eric Matthews Jr. (10 points) got himself to the rim and then a few possessions later splashed a 3 of his own.
Washington shot 48% from the field for the game. It turned Utah over 16 times and scored 21 points off those turnovers, but the halfcourt execution was really what made the difference.
Brown finished with 22 points, four boards, and five assists. Jamal Bey had 19 points on 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range and 6-of-7 shooting from the foul line.
Utah was led by 18 points from Marco Anthony, but Washington did well to limit his damage after a hot start in the first half. He had 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting at the intermission, then was held to just 2-of-7 shooting in the second half.
The season comes to a close for Utah (11-20) with the loss. Washington (17-14) will look to keep it going against the Trojans on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. PT.