SEATTLE — UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye is so tall, the 7-foot 6-inch freshman from Dakar, Senegal can practically touch the rim when he extends his arms while standing beneath the basket.
The Washington men’s basketball team knew it literally had a tall task against the Anteaters, and yet they continued attacking the rim with little success in an 86-72 defeat Thursday night in front of a sparse crowd of 5,875 fans at Alaska Airlines Arena.
One after one, the Huskies threw bodies at the UCI big man.
Early in the second half, C.J. Wilcox slashed to the rim for what looked like a layup before Ndiaye swatted the shot away to a teammate to start a UC Irvine fast break.
On the next possession, UW guard Mike Anderson challenged the Anteaters’ interior defense and Ndiaye blocked his layup.
Seconds later, Will Davis II, who finished with 19 points, finished the play with an emphatic two-hand slam at the other end that gave UCI a 47-38 lead.
But it was Ndiaye, who had 18 points, eight blocks and nine rebounds, who gave Washington the most trouble.
When he wasn’t rejecting shots, the UCI big man punctuated a two-hand slam dunk over 6-9 Perris Blackwell and yelled at the UW forward, which drew a technical foul.
Without forward Jernard Jarreau, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener, and injured forward Desmond Simmons (knee), Washington (1-1) had no answer for UCI’s big frontcourt.
The Huskies tried Blackwell, who made his UW debut after missing the opener with a concussion, and Shawn Kemp Jr., however, they quickly switched to a four-guard lineup that included 6-6 wing Mike Anderson in the high post.
Washington had early success and led 36-30 with 2:58 remaining in the first half.
However, the offense turned cold the rest of the way.
UC Irvine used a 40-12 run to build a 22-point lead (70-48) with 10:41 left.
The Huskies never got closer than 13 points down the stretch.
Wilcox led UW with 24 points and freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss had 13.
Washington hosts Eastern Washington at 5 p.m. Sunday before traveling to New York next week for two games at the 2K Sports Classic.
The Huskies face Indiana Nov. 21 at Madison Square Garden. Connecticut and Boston College play in other semifinal.