SEATTLE — The game was sloppy at times, as these exhibition ventures typically are.
Washington’s frontcourt, however, was not.
The Huskies were supposed to win, and they did, outrunning and outmuscling NCAA Division II Central Washington, 95-65, in men’s basketball before a crowd of 4,985 on Wednesday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The Huskies outrebounded Central Washington (52-33), shot much better from the field (53 percent to 30.7) and generally used their superior size and athleticism to handle the Wildcats, who hung around and trailed by as few as 11 points midway through the second half before wilting.
Washington experimented some, using 11 players in the first half, after which the Huskies led, 44-32.
But the usual suspects – including the one who hadn’t yet played at UW – carried the Huskies. Senior forward Perris Blackwell impressed in his first game in a UW uniform, using his 6-foot-9, 275-pound frame to clean up inside for a team-high 21 points and nine rebounds.
“I can pass it to Perris anytime,”
sophomore forward Jernard Jarreau said. “I know it’s going to be a bucket.”
Blackwell has been touted as the Huskies’ most-skilled low post scorer since perhaps Jamaal Williams, and he did nothing to disprove that notion.
The San Francisco transfer, eligible this season after sitting out last year, displayed soft hands and a soft touch around the rim – 7-for-9 shooting from the field to match his free throw numbers – as well as a physical rebounding presence and strong passing ability.
He wasn’t the only member of UW’s frontcourt to assert himself. Jarreau, a 6-foot-10 forward who was a role player last season, started and scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and finished with five assists.
“We’ve been doing a fantastic job in practice, we practice a lot, we know where each other want the ball at,” Jarreau said. “…We always read the defenders and we all have a common move, too, so we all know exactly where we want the ball at.”
The production from his frontcourt was no surprise to coach Lorenzo Romar, who has been trumpeting Jarreau’s improvement since practices began.
“This is what we’ve been seeing,” Romar said. “I think earlier people asked me who was most improved. I said, ‘Jernard Jarreau.’ When I say that, that’s why it’s not a surprise, because that’s what we’ve been seeing him do lately.”
Former Tacoma Community College star Mark McLaughlin, who spent four months with UW last season before leaving the team without playing, led all scorers with 30 points for CWU. His offensive output allowed the Wildcats to keep things somewhat interesting for a while, even trimming the UW lead to 61-50 with 13:32 to play.
But the Huskies scored 10 points in a row and made things far less interesting.
UW senior guard C.J. Wilcox finished with 16 points, though he missed each of his 3-point attempts. Freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss added 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
The Huskies played without junior forward Desmond Simmons, who sat out with a knee injury. Romar said Simmons will undergo arthroscopic surgery and should return by the end of December.email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ChristianCaple