SEATTLE (AP) — After three weeks without a game, Washington looked like “a bad gym class,” in the first half to the eyes of coach Mike Hopkins as the Huskies returned to the court on Saturday night.
Washington woke up and looked far better in the final 20 minutes.
Emmitt Matthews Jr. scored 11 of his 17 points as part of a big run to start the second half, and Washington posted a 64-56 win over Seattle University on Saturday night.
“Second half was really good. First half I didn’t recognize the team,” Hopkins said.
The Huskies (5-4, 0-1 Pac-12) had not played since Nov. 27 due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the program that caused Washington to pause all team activities and forfeit a conference game.
After a sloppy and sluggish first half where Washington looked like a team coming off a three-week break, Matthews sparked a 20-2 run over the first seven minutes of the second half that erased a seven-point halftime deficit. Washington led by as many as 14 in the second half.
Matthews had a pair of highlight dunks during the run — one off a lob pass from Terrell Brown Jr. — and knocked down a 3-pointer. It was just the fourth time this season Matthews scored in double figures. He also grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds.
“I think just the overall team came into that mindset of we hate losing. We’re tired of it. We don’t want to lose no more, especially at home,” Matthews said.
Brown added 16 points playing against his former team. The Huskies have won 14 straight against their crosstown rival since Seattle made the return to the Division I level in 2009. The last win for Seattle in the series came in 1978.
Riley Grigsby led Seattle (7-4, 0-0 WAC) with 20 points and Darrion Trammell added 18. The Redhawks led by as many as 11 midway through the first half, but missed 10 of 11 shots and had seven turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Before its return on Saturday, Washington’s last game was an 82-74 loss to Winthrop.
Due to COVID protocols, the Huskies had games at No. 8 Arizona rescheduled for January, a home game with No. 4 UCLA canceled and registered as a forfeit in the Pac-12 standings, and a matchup with No. 5 Gonzaga called off.
The Huskies returned to practice last Monday but were still not whole as assistant coaches Will Conroy and Quincy Pondexter were not on the bench for Saturday’s game. The rest of Washington’s roster was available.
“For me, it was not playing games. Watching games. Ours getting canceled or postponed or whatnot,” Brown said. “I think we were building something special. It took a three-week delay but I think we’re moving in the right direction.
Seattle: The Redhawks will lament a 16-minute stretch at the end of the first half and into the second half where they scored just 10 points. Seattle was 1 of 9 on 3-pointers in the second half.
Washington: The Huskies must get better perimeter shooting going forward. Washington was 2 of 15 on 3-pointers, which could have been a result of the long layoff.
Seattle: Host Northwest University on Wednesday.
Washington: Hosts Utah Valley on Tuesday.
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