Washington 62, Fresno State 57: The Huskies (4-1) overcame a slow start and opened the second half with a 14-4 run to outlast the Bulldogs (1-4) in a Dawg-beat-Dog battle.
Washington will face undefeated Saint Mary’s in Thursday’s championship game. Fresno State takes on Vanderbilt.
Forward Keion Brooks Jr. scored 16 points with five rebounds and three blocked shots to lead Washington, which shot only 37.9 percent from the field against a stingy Fresno State defense. The Huskies made only 5 of 23 3-pointers.
“We had to keep playing defense regardless of shots going in or out,” Washington Coach Mike Hopkins said. “PJ (Fuller II) led it on the defensive end for us. I’ve never seen a team – I’m going off-script here – but I thought we probably took eight charges. That was just them being locked in and disciplined.
“I felt tonight was a great stepping stone. When you shoot 37 percent from the field and 21 percent from 3, you know you have to play great defense.”
Forward Isaih Moore had 15 points and 13 rebounds to paced Fresno State, which had its own offensive struggles. The Bulldogs shot 37.7 percent from the field and connected on only 6 of 26 3-point tries.
“It’s not surprising, but I’m disappointed,” Fresno Coach Justin Hutson said of his team’s shooting woes. “The guys came out (in the second half) and threw the ball away. It’s as simple as that.”
The Bulldogs committed 21 turnovers.
Brooks scored eight consecutive points as Washington built a 53-39 lead with 9:52 left. Fresno was able to pull within 59-55 after a three-point play by Leo Colimerio with 37 seconds left but the Huskies hit three free throws in the final 30 seconds.
It took Washington, which did not have an assist in the first half, nearly five minutes to score its first points as Fresno took an 8-0 lead. There were 12 lead changes as the Bulldogs took a 28-27 halftime lead.