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Washington, Saint Mary’s reach Wooden Legacy title game

ANAHEIM — Washington coach Mike Hopkins got the game he anticipated in their Wooden Legacy semifinal on Wednesday night, and his team survived the defensive battle.

Keion Brooks scored 16 points and Washington held off Fresno State, 62-57, on Wednesday night at Anaheim Arena, earning the Huskies (4-1) a trip to the championship game against unbeaten Saint Mary’s (6-0) on Thursday at 9:30 p.m.

Washington got its last field goal on Franck Kepnang’s dunk with 2:35 left to make it 59-52. Fresno State did not score from the 4-minute mark until Leo Colimerio converted a three-point play with 37 seconds left to get the Bulldogs within 59-55.

P.J. Fuller hit two free throws for the Huskies and Jamal Bey added the first of two from the line to push the lead to 62-55 with 15 seconds left.

“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a rock fight, an old-school rock fight,” Hopkins said. “They (Fresno State) pride themselves defensively, they’re tough. They have guys that play multiple positions and Coach (Justin) Hudson is one of the best defensive coaches in the country. We knew what it was going to be like.”

The Huskies won despite shooting just 22 for 58 from the field (37.9%).

“The first half was a little bit of a struggle offensively for us and then in the second half we got a little wiggle room and we were able to hold on for a hard-fought win,” Hopkins said.

The win has extra meaning to Hopkins, a Mater Dei High graduate who helped the Monarchs win a CIF State title in 1987, for a number of reasons.

“To be able to play for a championship in the tournament of arguably the greatest coach in any sport ever, and for me to be home and have my mom there for the first time in a long time is pretty special,” Hopkins said.

Isaih Moore led Fresno State (1-3) with a double-double (15 points, 13 rebounds), but the Bulldogs did themselves no favors with 21 turnovers.

“With the 21 turnovers, I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, I would say disappointed,” Hudson said. “We have to work on it because most of them were unforced. Dribbling down, running people over, throwing the ball in the high post to the other team. You’re not going to win games that way.”

In the second semifinal, Aidan Mahaney scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and Logan Johnson added 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists as Saint Mary’s beat Vanderbilt, 75-65. Mitchell Saxen also scored 19 points for the Gaels.

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