SEATTLE (AP) — The tallest NCAA player came up big on Thursday night, when 7-foot-6 freshman Mamadou Ndiaye scored 18 points, added nine blocks and eight rebounds to lead UC Irvine to an 86-72 win over host Washington in the regional rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.
Ndiaye closed out the first half with a traditional three-point play to put UCI (1-2) ahead 38-36, then he had an emphatic dunk to spark a 19-3 run over the opening 5 ½ minutes of the second half.
Will Davis had a team-high 22 points for the Anteaters, while Luke Nelson added 11 points and six assists.
Washington's C.J. Wilcox had a game-high 24 points in the losing effort. The Huskies (1-1) were playing without 6-foot-10 post player Jernard Jarreau, who suffered a season-ending knee injury over the weekend, and Washington had no answer for Ndiaye.
UCI shot 59.6 percent (34 of 57) from the field and outrebounded Washington 42-36. The Huskies shot 37.5 percent.
Ndiaye scored most of his points on interior passes over a Washington defender, which he continually put in on dunks or easy layups. He was a force at the back of UCI's zone defense while altering several shots without picking up a foul until almost seven minutes into the second half.
Over an 8 ½-minute span that began with just under three minutes left in the first half, the Anteaters outscored Washington 27-3 to take control of the game.
UCI closed the first half with an 8-0 run to take a 38-36 lead into halftime. Ndiaye, a freshman from Sudan who attended prep school in Southern California, hit a layup with 0.2 seconds left to put the Anteaters their first lead in more than 11 minutes, then he added a free throw to complete the traditional three-point play.
Washington's Wilcox hit three 3-pointers on the way to 13 first-half points, while Ndiaye and Luke Nelson scored eight apiece for UCI.
The Huskies tied the score on a Nigel Williams-Goss shot 20 seconds into the second half, but UCI promptly went on a 19-1 run over the next five-plus minutes to take control of the game. The lead got as big as 21 points, and Washington never got closer than 13 points over the final 15 minutes.
Washington played without starters Desmond Simmons and Jarreau, both of whom were out with knee injuries. Jarreau suffered a season-ending ligament tear in the season opener, while Simmons is expected to be out 6-8 weeks.