Remember when the Huskies used wanting to play other teams as their excuse for cancelling this rivalry a decade ago?
“It’s really not about us not wanting to play them,” former UW athletic director Todd Turner said at the time. “We want to be scheduling nationally.”
Well, last night UW got to play the eighth-ranked team in the nation. And it probably didn’t take long for the Huskies to get to the point of why their university hasn't wanted to come to Spokane.
Behind a season high 23 points from former Husky Nigel Williams-Goss, the Zags thoroughly outclassed their in-state rival 98-71.
If there was a moment to highlight in this beatdown it came just moments into the second half. Williams-Goss had scored on the Zags’ previous two possessions, and then Przemek Karnowski (17 points) — all 300 pounds of his 7-1 frame — beat the entire Washington defense down the court for a breakaway dunk.
Gonzaga’s lead was all the way up to 53-27, and there were over 18 minutes left to be played.
It only got worse for the UW defense, too. At one point, Karnowski brought the ball up the court like a point guard. The giant man with giant dribbles didn’t have the ball stolen from him, like he should against a Pac 12 team, but rather he drew a foul.
The only real positive for the Huskies, other than their willingness to once again face off with Gonzaga, came from freshman guard Markelle Fultz (25 points). Among NBA Draft experts, Fultz is considered to be a potential number one overall pick
in the 2017 draft.
With Fultz, along with Gonzaga’s assortment of talent on display, NBA scouts from the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and numerous other teams, packed themselves into the Kennel’s press section to have a look in person.
In all, this didn’t look much like a rivalry. And maybe that's because it had been on ice for a decade. Or maybe because after this 40 minute drubbing Gonzaga, now 9-0 for only the second time in program history, has won 10 of the past 11 match-ups with the Huskies.
But it is indeed a rivalry game, and basketball in the Washington is better off now that it’s back, even if the Washington Huskies’ morale isn’t. Fans should be excited to see it continue next year over in Seattle.
The Zags are back in action on Saturday at 5 pm here in Spokane against a feisty Akron team (7-2) that will likely give them more of a run for their money than Washington could provide. It's televised on ROOT.
On the women's side, you can catch Gonzaga against Washington State tonight in the Kennel at 6 pm. As of now, there are still some tickets available.
The Zags head to Cheney at 2 pm on Sunday to take on the EWU women.