Freshman Markelle Fultz scored on a running dunk with five minutes remaining to get Washington back into contention and sealed a 92-86 win over Western Michigan Sunday night at Alaska Airlines Arena. The Huskies snapped a four-game losing streak.
Fultz, who entered the game as the nation’s leading freshman scorer (22.8 ppg), finished with 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds as Washington snapped the longest non-conference losing streak coach Lorenzo Romar’s tenure at the school.
Washington (5-5) won despite playing — again — horrific defense. The Huskies allowed the Broncos 12 mostly wide-open threes, including seven by Western Michigan senior Tucker Haymond, a Seattle native. But the Huskies shot 57.6 percent from 2-point range and knocked down eight threes of their own in winning the first matchup between the programs.
After taking a 49-48 lead in the first half, in which Haymond scored 20 points, Washington moved out to a 53-48 lead with 17 minutes remaining. But Western pulled ahead 58-57 at the 14:46 mark and increased it to 73-68 with 9:45 left. The Huskies finally had some defensive stops, taking an 81-80 lead when Fultz took the ball at the top of the key and blew in for a dunk.
In the final two minutes, Fultz hit a jumper in the lane, added two free throws and pulled down two rebounds to blunt any possibility of a comeback.
“He did a phenomenal job down the stretch,” Romar said of Fultz. “He took the game over. We had a lot of efficiency on the offensive end tonight and we did a good job defensively at the end of the game. This was a huge win for us. The arrow is pointing upward for us and that’s always good. We just have to continue to improve.”
Western Michigan (3-6) entered under a pall, one of its reserve players having been charged with murder earlier this week. But the Broncos, 0-2 on the road, were on the verge of an upset until the final two minutes.
“This team just played Villanova and took them down to the wire,” said Romar. “So we’re just happy to get a win. They are better than their record.”
Haymond, a graduate of Garfield High School, made only 3 of 18 threes before Sunday’s 7-for-12 performance. Western Michigan was seeking its first win over a Pac-12 team in 13 years.
“We gave him some wide-open looks,” said Romar. “Hat’s off to Tucker. But I thought we guarded him pretty well in the second half.”
Sophomore Dominic Green added 16 points for the Huskies, David Crisp 15 and Noah Dickerson 12. The Huskies outrebounded Western Michigan 35-26 and had 18 assists to nine turnovers. Washington also blocked eight shots, three by senior Malik Dime.
The Huskies host Cal Poly Tuesday (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).