This night is all about Quincy Pondexter.
Photo credit: AP Photo – Kevin P. Casey
Pondexter was in beast mode tonight and played nearly a perfect game in the 111-55 win over Portland State. Seriously. He set a career high with 29 points and his 13 rebounds tied a personal best. He converted 11 of 12 field goals, 7 of 8 free throws and had three assists in his best statistical game as a Husky.
Pondexter said he’s had better games. He talked about the wins last season at USC, Stanford and the games against UCLA. His coaches said he was also very good in last season’s NCAA tournament games and that may be true.
But Pondexter has never scored or never rebounded or never dominated like he did tonight. I asked him about what’s it’s like to finally be the go-to guy and he said: “It’s a huge load, but I’m more than prepared to handle it. I’ve watched Jon (Brockman) handle it. And when you’re handed the keys to the leadership, it helps you play so much better because you got to be the heart and soul of the team. You can’t have any letup or any drop off in anything that you do.”
Here’s our game story detailing a mini-rivalry with Portland State froward Phil Nelson, a former Husky, may have sparked Pondexter’s big night.
Even more than the points and rebounds, what was most impressive about Pondexter was his hustle and energy. Leading by 46 points in the second half, he dove for a loose ball, which resulted in a UW fastbreak layup.
Minutes later when the Huskies had a 54-point lead and less than a minute left in the game, Scott Suggs dove for a loose ball that resulted in an alley-oop pass from Abdul Gaddy and a slam dunk from Clarence Trent that capped the scoring and delivered an exclamation mark to the three-day Athletes in Action tournament.
Said Romar: “If (Pondexter) doesn’t do that maybe Scott doesn’t do it with 15 seconds left. Quincy is our captain and Quincy played with a lot of energy tonight. He was all over the place. He’s really playing some outstanding basketball.”
SOME OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
— UW’s bench scored 36 points, which is another example of it depth.
— Three games into the season, UW is averaging 11 turnovers, which is a major improvement from last season when it averaged 14.7. Romar attributed the drop to better guard play.
— Washington is also averaging 93.7 points and holding opponents to 67.3 points.
— As good as the Huskies were in the first half when they took a 55-29 lead into halftime, they were even better in the second half 56-26.
— UW’s depth allows Romar to experiment with lineups. At one time early in the first half, he had the three-point guards on the floor together. That lineup was okay, however, the defensive grouping of Elston Turner, Justin Holiday, Scott Suggs, Venoy Overton and Darnell Gant started the 22-2 run that broke the game open. Romar said this lineup may not have overwhelming offensive power, but it scores when the defense forces turnovers.
— Tyreese Breshers was the only Husky who didn’t play. Romar said Breshers, who injured his middle right finger on Saturday, was feeling discomfort and had difficulty gripping the ball. Romar said he didn’t believe the finger was broken, but indicated he wasn’t 100 percent certain. So stay tuned.
— Other than Pondexter, Holiday had the second best game tonight. Holiday was terrific. And he unveiled a brand new three-pointer UW fans had never seen before. In his previous two years, Holiday was 1-8 on treys. Tonight he was 2 for 2. Even more impressive was the way Holiday took those shots. He didn’t hesitate. He wasn’t hurried. In fact, he looked very comfortable as if he expected them to go in.
Holiday said even though a hernia injury and surgery prevented him from running this summer, he spent hours in the gym practicing the three-point shot and perfecting his delivery.
Said Overton: “We know he’s going to play D, but if we get a little offense from him that’s a plus.”
— And speaking of Overton, he bounced back from a quiet night Saturday with 11 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals that negated three turnovers.
— In a strange way, UW didn’t need Isaiah Thomas, who scored 6 points at halftime and scored 15 after the break when the outcome was decided. it’s interesting to note Thomas is UW’s third leading rebounder averaging 5 per game.
— Still not sure what’s going on with Turner, who was 1 for 5, including 0 for 2 on treys in 14 minutes. If Holiday and Suggs continue to knock down three-pointers, it’s going to be tough for Turner to carve out minutes.
— Bryan-Amaning moved into a 10th place tie with James Edwards, Will Perkinds, Kenny Lyles and Maurice Woods on UW’s all-time blocks list with 58.
— Washington will take Monday off and play its next game Friday against San Jose State.
Monday: Eastern Washington at Washington State; Texas State at Arizona State; Cal State Fullerton at UCLA.
My picks: WSU, ASU and UCLA.
Tuesday: TCU or Cal State Northridge at Arizona State; UC Riverside at USC.
My picks: ASU and USC.