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Washington climbs out of 9-point hole to best Utah Tech

Feb 28, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington head coach Mike Hopkins yells during a game against UCLA at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman Keyon Menifield scored 26 points as host Washington rallied from an early nine-point deficit to defeat Utah Tech 78-67 Monday night in a nonconference game in Seattle.

Cole Bajema added 16 points and PJ Fuller II scored 10 for the Huskies (3-0), who are off to their best start in coach Mike Hopkins’ six seasons.

Utah Tech (1-2) was led by center Tanner Christensen, who scored a career-high 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Isaiah Pope added 13 points.

The Trailblazers’ top two scorers, Cameron Gooden and Frank Staine, who entered averaging a combined 26 points per game, totaled 12 points on 4-for-19 shooting from the field.

After trailing 58-55 with 9:51 remaining, the Huskies took the lead on a 3-pointer by Jamal Bey and 7-footer Braxton Meah followed with a dunk off a long lead pass from Menifield.

With Washington leading 61-58 with 7:44 left, the game was delayed for about 25 minutes because the clocks over the backboards malfunctioned.

Menifield hit a step-back 3-pointer, capping a 9-0 run, as the shot clock wound down when the game resumed, and the Trailblazers weren’t able to get any closer than four the rest of the way.

Utah Tech led 36-34 at the half as Christensen had 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field.

Christensen, a 6-foot-10 center from Spokane Valley, Wash., proved a handful inside, with the short-handed Huskies’ Meah being charged with three first-half fouls and Franck Kepnang picked up two while trying to guard him.

The Trailblazers had a 13-0 run before the intermission and led by as many as nine on two occasions.

The Huskies played without starters Noah Williams and Keion Brooks Jr., both sidelined by leg injuries.

Washington shot 55.1 percent from the field (27 of 49), including 12 of 20 from 3-point range, while Utah Tech shot 40.6 percent (26 of 64). The Trailblazers had a 38-25 edge on the boards, including 15-4 on the offensive end. The Huskies helped make up for that with eight blocked shots.

–Field Level Media