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SEATTLE (AP) — Throughout the nonconference portion of its schedule, Washington has searched for some semblance of consistency on the defensive end.
The Huskies found it for 20 solid minutes on Tuesday night. The task is now carrying it forward with the start of Pac-12 Conference play on the horizon.
"It was just a matter of knowing the scout and buying in to what our coaches have said," Washington forward Matisse Thybulle said.
David Crisp had 16 of his 21 points in the second half, Thybulle added 15 points, and Washington locked down defensively in the second half to pull away from Cal Poly 77-61.
During stretches of the nonconference slate, Washington looked disinterested at the defensive end. The likes of Yale, Western Michigan, Nevada and TCU — twice — all put up more than 80 points against the Huskies. And while shutting down Cal Poly won't be considered a major accomplishment, it was a sign of progress that perhaps Lorenzo Romar's team is starting to realize the importance of not trying to always outscore their opponents.
"It was good to see our team go out and play right tonight," Romar said.
The Huskies entered the night averaging nearly 87 points per game but Cal Poly lengthened possessions and forced Washington to work at the offensive end for the first 30 minutes. But Washington's defense in the second half was possibly the best it's been all season. The Huskies went on a 12-2 run midway through the second half capped by Crisp's third 3-pointer of the half to take a 58-48 lead with 7:36 left.
"Playing with a lot of confidence and playing right," Romar said of Crisp. "Growing up, maturing, that's what I see."
Ridge Shipley led Cal Poly (5-7) with 14 points, but the Mustangs went more than eight minutes of the second half with just one field goal. Kyle Toth and Donovan Fields both added 13 points. Cal Poly coach Joe Callero was pleased with the continued progress he's seen against power conference teams.
"That was probably the best 25 minutes that we have played against a high-major team," Callero said. "We've got to be able to extend it."
Markelle Fultz scored 14 points, just the third time in 11 games he's scored under 20 points. Noah Dickerson added 12 points — including a two-handed dunk off a nifty spinning wraparound pass by Fultz — and grabbed 10 rebounds. But it was Dickerson's work defensively in the second half against shorter perimeter players that was critical.
Cal Poly was seeking its seventh win all-time against a Pac-12 opponent and first since beating UCLA in November 2012. The Mustangs put a scare into Washington in the first half, leading by as many as 10 before a 14-5 run over the final four minutes of the half pulled the Huskies within 37-36 at the break.
The Mustangs were 9 of 18 on 3-pointers in the first half but went silent over the final 20 minutes hitting just 1 of 10 on 3s. Luke Meikle's 3-pointer with 2:44 left was Cal Poly's first of the second half.
Cal Poly: It was the second time this season the Mustangs hung with a Pac-12 team for a half only to struggle shooting in the second half. Cal Poly trailed at Arizona State 39-38 at halftime last month, but faded in a 96-74 loss after shooting 36 percent in the second half. The story was the same on Tuesday, as the Mustangs shot just 23.5 percent in the second half.
Washington: The 61 points allowed by the Huskies was just the third time this season the Huskies held a team under 80 points. The challenge for Washington will be replicating the defensive effort in the second half as better opponents appear on the schedule.
Cal Poly: The Mustangs are off until after Christmas and will travel to Grand Canyon on Dec. 28.
Washington: The Huskies face crosstown rival Seattle on Thursday night.
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