After a three-week layoff because of a COVID-19 outbreak, Washington returned to the court Saturday with a different outlook.
“We were just lucky that no one was really affected on a personal side and just grateful that we were able to get through it,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said after a 64-56 victory against Seattle University. “The guys are obviously hungry. I don’t want to ever say that you take games or a season for granted, but when things are taken away from you, it puts a lot of things in perspective for a lot of guys.”
The Huskies (5-4) have one more nonleague game, playing host to Utah Valley on Tuesday night in Seattle before they resume Pacific-12 Conference play.
The Huskies were forced to reschedule their Pac-12 opener against Arizona, forfeit their home game against UCLA and cancel their game at Gonzaga because of the outbreak.
“Watching games and ours getting canceled or postponed and just not playing was hard,” said Huskies leading scorer Terrell Brown Jr., who had 16 points Saturday. “I think we were building something really special and then we take a three-week delay. But we’re moving in the right direction.”
Forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. had 17 points and 11 rebounds against Seattle and keyed a 20-2 run in the second half to help Washington overcome a 35-28 halftime deficit.
“A bad gym class,” Hopkins said when asked to describe his team’s first half. “I didn’t recognize the team, but when you haven’t played in 21 days it was one of those things.”
Utah Valley (8-3) is off to its best start in program history, surpassing the 2017-18 team that opened 7-4.
The Wolverines are coming off a 107-65 victory against Bethesda of the NCCAA last Friday in Orem, Utah, in which Le’Tre Darthard scored 30 points and Fardaws Aimaq added 20 points and 16 rebounds.
“We came out flat for the first five or six minutes but after we got through that initial low, we started playing with more energy and good things started happening,” Utah Valley coach Mark Madsen said. “The guys have been through finals this past week and we haven’t played for almost a week so we were a little flat. Once we caught our rhythm, guys were aggressive and the ball got moving.”
–Field Level Media