SEATTLE – Noah Dickerson scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, Jaylen Nowell added 17, and No. 25 Washington rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to beat Western Kentucky 73-55 on Tuesday night.
Ranked in the preseason for the first time since 2011, the Huskies (1-0) slogged through an ugly first half of foul trouble and poor shooting, and leaned heavily on Dickerson to put away the Hilltoppers in the second half.
Limited to just six minutes in the first half after picking up three fouls, Dickerson put together his own eight-point scoring spurt midway through the second half as the Huskies finally started to pull away. Dickerson made 6 of 8 shots and grabbed six rebounds.
He also got the best of a matchup with highly-touted Western Kentucky freshman Charles Bassey in his college debut. The 6-foot-11 forward also struggled with early foul problems and finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out in the final moments.
Jared Savage and Taveion Hollingsworth combined for 21 first-half points for the Hilltoppers, but were silent in the second half, combining for just eight points. Savage led Western Kentucky (0-1) with 15 points and Hollingsworth had 14.
Washington started the second half on a 13-0 run, erasing the damage of Western Kentucky’s 17-0 run to close the first half. David Crisp’s 3-pointer gave Washington a 37-36 lead and the Huskies led 40-36 before Bassey’s dunk finally got the Hilltoppers on the board.
But it was a key six-point possession midway through the half that finally gave Washington a cushion. Nowell scored and a flagrant foul was called on Matt Horton against Dickerson as the pair headed down court. Dickerson hit the free throws for the foul and on the ensuing possession scored underneath to give the Huskies a 56-48 lead. Dickerson later added a dunk off a loose ball and Washington’s lead was 58-50 with 7:42 remaining. After another basket by Dickerson, Dominic Green’s 3 pushed Washington’s lead to 13.
Bassey was the No. 8 recruit in country last year and arguably the highest-rated recruit ever to play for the Hilltoppers. His collegiate debut brought out 18 NBA scouts and he showed flashes of his promise at the next level in the second half.
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