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Husky men upset No. 7 Gonzaga, snap 7-game losing streak to Bulldogs

Percy Allen, The Seattle Times on

Published in Basketball

SEATTLE — As a mass of purple-donned fans spilled from their seats to the Alaska Airlines Arena floor, Franck Kepnang bounced up and down in a moshpit at midcourt.

The Huskies big man didn’t want to leave this and soaked it all in, which was fitting considering he was instrumental in Washington’s 78-73 upset win over No. 7 Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Kepnang finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocks to lead the Huskies men to their first win over a top-10 ranked team in six years.

Washington (6-3) also snapped a seven-game losing streak to Gonzaga (7-2), which had its 16 straight wins against Pac-12 teams snapped.

For weeks, the Huskies told anyone who would listen they were close to capturing a breakthrough win.

After narrow losses to Nevada, San Diego State and Colorado State, UW players believed those setbacks were setting them up for a something grand.

On Saturday, Washington produced one of the biggest wins in the Mike Hopkins era.

Keion Brooks Jr. led UW with 17 points and eight rebounds, Sahvir Wheeler had 16 points, Moses Wood 12 and Koren Johnson 11.

The first half was full of Husky highlights.

 

—Kepnang caught a ball on the right side of rim, spun around forward Braden Huff and flushed a dunk on the left side of the rim despite being fouled. After falling, he pounded the floor with two hands, popped up and screamed at no one in particular.

—Johnson somehow converted a no-look shot that he flipped over his shoulder with his back to the rim.

—Wheeler drained a nifty step-back jumper as time expired that cut UW’s deficit to 48-42 heading into the break.

If not for nine turnovers — including four from Paul Mulcahy — that led to 11 points, Washington would have been in control of the game.

Gonzaga led 59-48 early in the second half, but it took Washington five minutes to erase its 11-point deficit when Wheeler retrieved a loose ball and raced ahead for a fast-break layup to tie it at 66-66 with 8:56 left.

Brooks drained a couple of free throws that knotted the score at 70-70 5:14 left.

Wheeler put the Huskies up for good with a high-arching layup at 72-70.


©2023 The Seattle Times. Visit seattletimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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