On Friday, the UW Huskies did something they had not don’t in almost a decade get an NCAA Tournament win. With the victory over the Utah State Aggies, the #9 Huskies were outmatched by the #1 North Carolina Tarheels reminding Dawg fans that they are closer, but still a bit away from the “big boys.”
North Carolina led the nation in rebounding and it showed by the 48-24 advantage in rebounding by the Tarheels. Senior Noah Dickerson got 6 rebounds, but it definitely looked as if the taller more athletic North Carolina squad had the better on the Purple and Gold.
“When you’re building a program, you get a lot through experience,” Hopkins said. “And to be able to win a game (78-61 over Utah State Friday night), to feel it . . . you walk out on that stage, it’s pretty big. I’ve seen it a lot. Our guys haven’t. The most important thing was to understand what it takes to get to this level. Then, what it’s going to take to win a national championship.”
Seniors Matisse Thybulle and David Crisp could only combine for 19 pts on 3-17 shooting. That left Jaylen Nowell as the lead scorer with just a mere 12 points.
It wasn’t the storybook ending for the senior class; however, there is much to look back on this season with heads held high. UW broke it’s 8 year NCAA drought with a return and a win. UW also took the regular season Pac-12 title and did something no other Pac-12 team did—win Player of the Year (Jaylen Nowell), Coach of the Year (Mike Hopkins), and Defensive Player of the Year (Matisse Thybulle).
“To see how far we’ve come in two years is pretty impressive,” said Matisse Thybulle. “My sophomore year, we were one of the worst, then we won the Pac-12 outright, and won a game in the NCAA tournament.