SEATTLE – Gonzaga Week officially began at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Once No. 22 Washington rolled over Eastern Washington for a 90-80 victory to finish a stretch of five blowout victories, the Huskies turned their attention to the long-awaited showdown Sunday against the ninth-ranked Bulldogs.
“It’s here now,” sophomore guard Quade Green said. “This game is over and they’re our next game. So of course, we got to focus on them right now.”
One could argue the Huskies have been focused on their cross-state nemesis since the Zags’ buzzer-beating victory last year stretched their winning streak to four in a row over UW.
Gonzaga has won 12 of the past 13 meetings dating back to 1998, but that’s ancient history to a UW team comprised of three starters who have never played the Bulldogs.
“I know they beat us last year,” said Green, the Kentucky transfer who sat out last season. “That’s all I need to know. I just know we lost to them last year and it’s a rivalry game, so we got to win.”
Following its only setback of the season – a 75-62 defeat against Tennessee in Toronto on Nov. 16 – UW seemingly regained its footing and jump-started a dormant offense that could barely score 60 points.
“When we lost, we all came back on the bus and Coach (Mike Hopkins) got on us about losing (because) we were joking around,” Green said. “We didn’t want to lose anymore after that.”
The Huskies averaged just 61.7 points in their first three games and have since averaged 79.6 points in the five outings during a two-week stretch of tuneups.
Against Eastern, UW (7-1) scored a season-high 90 points and had six players in double figures for the first time since this season. (The last time that happened was Jan. 1 during an 84-76 victory over Cal State Fullerton.)
“I thought offensively we got great contributions from the bench, and I was really excited about that,” Hopkins said. “Still have to do a better job on the defensive end for the most part, but I was really happy for them tonight.
“They did a really good job. Guys found each other. We had 14 assists. Those are all positives.”
Green led the way with a season-high 20 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the floor, including two 3-pointers. He converted 8 of 9 free throws and finished with eight assists and one turnover.
“The thing that I get excited about is the eight assists and one turnover,” Hopkins said. “He’s controlling the game and delivering the ball on time and on target. Finding guys. I was really happy with the way that he shared it.”
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