Berkeley, CA – The Washington Huskies spoiled Cal’s Senior Day, beating the Bears 68-51 to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. The Huskies (19-10) have been one of the great stories in college basketball this year under first year coach Mike Hopkins, bouncing back from a 9-22 season last year.
Despite falling to last in Pac-12 play, Cal put up a solid fight in their last home game. Through the first 30 minutes of the game, Cal kept the game within five points, and even led 43-41 with 16:25 left, but the Huskies closed the game on a 27-8 run. Naziah Carter’s thunderous dunk with 14:13 catalyzed the Huskies to victory.
After going 4-of-8 from 3-PT range in the first half, including 17 points from Darius McNeil, Cal shot 0-of-9 from long distance in the second half and McNeil didn’t score another point. Justice Sueing was the only other Bear to score in double digits with 12 points.
Washington freshman, Jaylen Nowell, poured in 23 points, including 13 free throws. Nowell was the most fluid scorer on the court, and able to score from anywhere. Noah Dickerson outdueled Cal’s big men and controlled the paint at 6-8. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Dickerson routinely gets good post position, has a soft touch, and is an ambidextrous scorer.
Washington’s zone was very effective, forcing the Bears to shoot 34% overall for the game and 23% in the second half. They rotate well and are active contesting every shot.
Up next – Washington has two home games to close the season, vs. Oregon State on Thursday and vs. Oregon on Saturday. Cal goes on the road to finish the season, at Arizona State Thursday and at Arizona Saturday.
Matisse Thybulle – Thybulle is a 6’5 junior wing with an incredible wing span. He is line for the Pac-12 Defensive Player Award this year, averaging three steals a game and is second in the nation in steals this season. Thybulle is the prototypical “3 and D” NBA wing. He plays in the top of Washington’s 2-3 zone and helps their defense in so many ways. Offenders have to throw their passes higher than they’d like to get over Thybulle, and his quick closeout speed and length catches shooters off-guard. There were four to five possessions where Thybulle forced a turnover but didn’t get credit for it. He was +19 on the game and is their +/- leader by far. He was an encouraging teammate all night long, despite picking up two quick fouls sloppily trying to contest from behind. Offensively, Thybulle is mainly a catch and shoot guy and he was effective, hitting three 3’s, although one was a lucky make at the end of the shot clock. He has a quick release and sets his feet well (shooting about 36% 3PT on the year). He did show the ability to handle okay and showed flashes of vision with a great cross-court pass, but his ball-skills will have to improve at the next level. It will be interesting to see how Thybulle does in man coverage after playing zone all year.
Jaylen Nowell – Nowell has an advanced feel for the game as a freshman. He is a very smooth scorer, capable of scoring in different ways with great footwork. He is not exceptionally quick or explosive at this point, but he gets by with change of pace, size and intuition. He can finish with both hands and has great touch. More time is needed to assess him defensively, as playing in the zone with Thybulle makes it tough to see whether he’s capable of defending point guards on the perimeter.
This article was written by Will Winston, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout certification program. For information contact us and forward your resume.