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Frontcourt powers Huskies to exhibition win

Blackwell

Blackwell -

Transfer Perris Blackwell led the Huskies with 21 points and nine rebounds in his first game for the UW. 

Photo by Anastasia Stepankowsky

Jernard Jarreau took a powerful dribble in the paint, elevated, and slammed the ball through the rim for a dunk. He came down to the court and flexed his arms over his head with a wide grin. He’s been working for that one for a long time, and he wanted to show off for his strength coaches and teammates.

The Washington men’s basketball team outmuscled Central Washington in its exhibition game Wednesday night. The UW frontcourt dominated as Jarreau and Perris Blackwell, the UW’s starting forwards, combined for 38 points and 18 rebounds, to power the Huskies to a 95-65 win over the Wildcats.

Finding offensive production from the frontcourt has been difficult for the Huskies in recent years, but after a productive offseason head coach Lorenzo Romar was far from shocked by his dominating bigs Wednesday.

“That’s what we’ve been seeing,” Romar said of his frontcourt. “That’s not a surprise.”

The Huskies had 60 points in the paint compared to Central Washington’s 28. Blackwell led the Huskies with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting in his first game in a UW uniform. The UW’s leading scorer last season, C.J. Wilcox, finished with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting.

The Huskies buried the Wildcats after a lackluster first half, pouring on 51 points in the second period behind a fast-paced offense that ran up and down the court at will, tiring the Wildcats out.

“That’s the main thing: being in attack mode at all times, taking it out from three-quarters court, pressuring the ball, whether it’s a make or a miss for the other team,” Wilcox said.

Blackwell was a dominant physical presence in the paint, easily outmuscling defenders for easy lay-ins and rebounds. The UW’s starting frontcourt combined for seven assists, including a team-high five from Jarreau.

After falling behind by one point at the 14:01 mark in the first half, the UW pieced together a 17-4 run to build a 12-point lead. The Wildcats cut the deficit to five points with less than three minutes left in the first half, but Wilcox scored five straight points to buoy the Huskies back to a comfortable lead at halftime. Wilcox scored seven of the UW’s last nine points in the first half and went into the locker room as the team’s leading scorer with 11 points. Central’s Mark McLaughlin, a native of Bothell, Wash., led all scorers at halftime with 15 points.

The Huskies spent the majority of the offseason getting acclimated to a new foul rule that’s meant to limit contact and increase offensive flow and scoring. Under the new rule, hand-checking, jabbing, or forearm contact by a defensive player toward an offensive player results in an immediate foul. At first, the rule opposed Romar’s aggressive style of defense. But the head coach invited officials into practices to get his players familiar with the new rule, and it proved to be a minimal issue Wednesday. The Huskies were called for only 14 personal fouls.

“I think a lot of guys are focusing on not doing it,” Wilcox said. “We have to find a happy medium, but we did a good job, playing off the guys and keeping our hands off them.”

The Huskies open their regular season Sunday against Seattle University at Hec Edmundson Pavilion at 7 p.m.

Note:

Forward Desmond Simmons sat out Wednesday’s game due to a knee injury. Romar said he will get arthroscopic surgery on his knee and be sidelined until mid-December.

Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21

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