SEATTLE (AP) — Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss were determined not to let Washington’s sluggish start to the NIT be the end of their freshmen seasons.
Murray led Washington’s charge with 30 points, Chriss added 18 of his 27 points in the second half and the Huskies held off Long Beach State 107-102 on Tuesday night in a wild opener to the NIT.
On a night defense was optional, Washington had the better offensive output thanks to its stars. Andrew Andrews added 25 points, including eight at the free-throw line in the final 37 seconds, and Washington was able to extend its season for at least one more game.
The Huskies will face San Diego State in the second round.
“Our guys, after we came out pretty sluggish, I thought realized if we didn’t get going we were going to be going home for the summer,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Give our guys a lot of credit, started playing hard, started playing with more energy.”
Washington trailed by as many as 14 in the first half as Nick Faust and Long Beach State took the early advantage. The 49ers lead was trimmed to five by halftime and it didn’t take long into the second half before the Huskies pushed in front.
Still, the Huskies struggled to shake Long Beach State. After Murray’s finger roll layup gave the Huskies a 90-87 lead with 5:31 left, the 49ers ran off the next seven points and led 94-90 with 4:23 left. But Washington outscored the 49ers 17-8 the rest of the way, taking the lead for good on Chriss’ two free throws with 1:41 remaining. The Huskies final 10 points came at the free throw line.
“It showed in the second half that our whole team clicked together and we all care,” Murray said.
Murray was the catalyst for the comeback helping carry Washington offensively for a long stretch of the second half with Andrews on the bench with four fouls. Murray made 10 of 16 shots while Chriss was 11 of 17 from the field. The trio of Murray, Chriss and Andrews combined for 82 of the 107 points.
Faust led Long Beach State (20-15) with 26 points and Justin Bibbins added 17, but was held to just four points in the second half. The 49ers fell in the Big West tournament championship game to Hawaii.
“They were just too athletic for us at the end of the day on the bounce and on the boards,” Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said.
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