Hours before Washington tipped off against Colorado on Saturday night, David Crisp turned to fellow senior Matisse Thybulle and shared a thought: They’d never swept a road trip in their careers.
And then he shared another one.
“I was like, man, that’s the goal,” Crisp said. “I want to get that done.”
With a 77-70 victory over the Buffaloes (10-6, 1-3 Pac-12), Crisp and UW (12-4, 3-0) did just that. The victory wrapped up the Huskies’ first undefeated road trip in six years.
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“It means everything,” said sophomore Jaylen Nowell, who finished with a team-high 19 points along with five assists and four steals. “Coming in, that’s what we set out to do. Before we even made the road trip, we came together as a group and we promised that no matter what, we had to come back with two wins and that’s what we did.”
UW got off to its best start of the season against the Buffaloes. At the CU Events Center, the fans stand until Colorado scores. The Huskies kept them on their feet for five full minutes, building a 12-0 lead before the Buffaloes made their first basket.
UW shot 63 percent from the field in the first half, including 61.5 percent from beyond the arc. The early success was fueled by Crisp, who is shooting 67.8 percent from the 3-point line and averaging 18.7 points over the past three games.
Crisp scored six of UW’s first 10 points and was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc before the break. He finished with 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the 3-point line. Remarkably, the 57.1 percent 3-point shooting percentage was his lowest mark in conference play.
“I’m a bad coach for not getting him more shots in the second half,” Hopkins said. “He’s been our spark plug, our leader. He’s the guy calming guys down in the second half. He’s making the defensive plays.”
But while Hopkins called the first half one of the Huskies’ best offensive performances of the season, UW cooled off after the break, shooting 42.1 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from the 3-point line. That allowed the Buffaloes back into the game. And as the score got closer, the crowd once again climbed to its feet. This time for a different reason.
After going into halftime with a 48-35 advantage, the Huskies led by as many as 15 points early in the second half. With 9:57 remaining, they were ahead 63-53. But that’s when Colorado went on its run, outscoring UW 9-0 to pull within one point, 63-62, with 7:14 remaining.
A layup from Nowell and two free throws from Thybulle kept UW ahead. But with 5:52 left, Colorado’s Tyler Bey, who finished with 15 points, made a layup to cut the Huskies’ advantage to 67-65.
That’s when UW responded with a pivotal 8-2 run launched by a jumper from Nowell. After Noah Dickerson went 1-for-2 at the foul line, UW had a five-point lead.
Lucas Siewert hit a layup to pull the Buffaloes back within three points. But Thybulle, who had nine points and two blocks for the game, was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and drained all three free throws to put the Huskies up 73-67 with 3:18 left.
“We just played as hard as we can even through the ups-and-downs,” Nowell said. “It’s one of those things where we got old veteran guys that know how to play. … We did a great job coming out and competing, both teams.”
After Daylen Kountz missed a jumper on the other end, Nowell drove into the lane for another jumper that gave UW an eight-point advantage, 75-67, with 2:36 remaining. The Huskies held on from there.
“We made the plays that we had to make down the stretch,” Hopkins said. “When they made runs, we were able to stop it at one. It started getting scary. Our guys made the plays. We were gritty down the stretch. We had to make the plays to win and we did that.”
Colorado lost leading scorer McKinley Wright to a shoulder injury with 8:04 left in the first half. He immediately went to the locker room and never returned. D’Shawn Schwartz paced the Buffaloes with 22 points.
The Huskies are now one of four undefeated teams in the Pac-12 along with Arizona (4-0), UCLA (3-0) and Oregon State (2-0). They will now return home to face Stanford and Cal at home on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
“It just proves how hard we worked over the summer and coming into fall,” Nowell said. “We have those veteran guys that are working and just pushing all those young guys to keep going as well.”