Weber State was closing in and cut Washington’s double-digit lead to three points midway in the second quarter when PJ Fuller II responded with an emphatic answer.
Fuller led a full-speed 1-on-3 fast break before running into a two-man barricade at midcourt.
The Husky guard dribbled behind his back, which sent Wildcats forward Dillon Jones falling to the floor and then he accelerated pass Keith Dinwiddie before darting to the rim and elevating over Daniel Rouzan for an acrobatic layup that sent shock waves throughout Alaska Airlines Arena.
Fuller’s highlight play sparked an 8-0 run, which helped the UW men’s basketball team pull away for a 69-52 nonconference win Monday night.
It was the Huskies first season-opening victory since 2019 after losses the previous two years, including an embarrassing 71-64 setback to Northern Illinois last year.
In his UW debut, Keion Brooks Jr. finished with 20 points on 6-for-15 shooting and seven rebounds.
Fuller added 10 points and four assists while newcomers Franck Kepnang (eight rebounds and three blocks) and Braxton Meah (seven rebounds) starred defensively for Washington (1-0), which held Weber State to 35.6% shooting from the field.
In the opening four minutes, UW trailed 8-3 in large part because of shoddy ball handling in which Noah Williams, Fuller and Brooks each threw passes that badly missed the mark and sailed out of bounds into the first row of the stands.
The offense wasn’t necessarily a problem, considering the Huskies converted seven of their first 13 shots.
However, they also had seven turnovers and 10 fouls, which explains why they trailed 22-16 with 9:04 left in the first half.
That’s when Hopkins adroitly switched from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone to slow a Weber State offense that was shooting 50% (5 of 10) from the field.
Following the defensive switch, the Wildcats missed their next 12 field goals while the Huskies finished the first half on a 15-1 run to take a 31-23 lead into halftime.
At the break, UW had converted 44% (11 of 25) from the field while Weber State was 22.7% (5 of 22).
After taking a 37-27 lead early in the second, the Huskies were up 41-38 before Fuller’s highlight play. UW quickly rebuilt its double-digit lead and went ahead 49-38 with 11:34 left.
The Wildcats never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Dinwiddie had 14 points and Steven Verplancken (12) for Weber State.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.