Photo credit: Cliff DesPeaux
During it’s 76-70 victory against Oregon State, No. 17 Washington displayed why it should be favored to win the Pac-10 and repeat as conference champions.
We’ve discussed during the non-conference games about the Huskies’ search for an identity and a winning formula.
We thought defense was the key. Or Quincy Pondexter. Or finding a third scorer. Or limiting turnovers. Or perimeter shooting.
Truth of the matter, the secret to Washington’s success is its depth. Last night coach Lorenzo Romar received production from everyone in the nine-man rotation. Freshman Clarence Trent was the only scholarship player available who didn’t play. Romar said sophomore Scott Suggs sat out because of symptoms related to food poisoning.
Without Suggs, who is arguably their best three-point shooter, the Huskies didn’t shoot particularly well on treys.
They allowed OSU to shoot 46.4 percent. They committed 17 turnovers. And they were outscored 37-33 in the second half.
But it didn’t matter.
Every Husky who played scored at least two points, had at least one rebound and played inspired defense.
Put it all together – the good and the bad – and you got a closer-than-expected victory.
But as Pondexter said: “Anytime you get a win in the Pac-10, it’s obviously a positive no matter who you’re playing.”
— Against OSU’s 1-3-1 zone, UW shot 42.4 percent, which bodes well for the future. The zone is supposed to be the Huskies’ Achilles heel and UW struggled at times. But as the game wore on and the Beavers tired, the Huskies found holes in the middle. And Washington’s defense created easy scoring opportunities.
— Pondexter had four turnovers and It wasn’t one of his better nights. Still when it was over, he’s the one with a 20 points and 10 rebounds, both game highs. He went to the free throw line 12 times and converted 10. He also had five offensive rebounds. Pondexter moved into 15th place on UW’s all-time scoring list ahead of Bruno Boin. Pondexter needs 75 points to pass Bill Hanson and Justin Dentmon.
— Isaiah Thomas showed no ill effects from a sprained right ankle. Without Suggs, Thomas picked up the slack on treys. He took six shots behind the arc and sank three. Last night, he was more of a scorer (19 points) than playmaker (one assist).
— Matthew Bryan-Amaning gave UW a big presence in the middle. He blocked two shots, had a goal tending call and five rebounds, including three on the offensive end. Bryan-Amaning led the way early, scoring six points in the first four minutes.
— Once again, Venoy Overton provided a spark as a reserve. It’s the fourth straight game he’s come off the bench. Overton might have been the difference between winning and losing. He finished with four steals and four assists, which negated four turnovers. He also had 13 points.
— Darnell Gant and Abdul Gaddy contributed at times. Gant had a big offensive rebound and sank a crucial mid-range in the second half, while Gaddy dished a game-high tying five assists.
— The guys at the bottom of the rotation (Justin Holiday, Elston Turner and Tyreese Breshers) weren’t big scorers, but each played a role in the win. Holiday was 1-for-5 shooting, but he collected a steal and forced two turnovers. Turner finished with four rebounds and Breshers was a force in the middle early on and solid defensively against OSU center Joe Burton.
AND SOME QUOTES:
(Opening statement): “”Boy Oregon State is tough to play against. They do a great job of not letting you get away from them. I told our guys its hard to make them go away the way that they play. But give a lot of guys a lot of credit. We made probably too many mental mistakes tonight, but I thought in the first half, once we got going, our defense of pressure was very good. That allowed us to get out in front that way. We did a better job rebounding tonight. We had some slippage in the last few games, but we did a better job. Scott Suggs was not in uniform. He’s back in his dorm watching the game. He was up all night nauseas. He is going to be fine. He got some fluids in him, but our medical people thought it if best if he just stayed in and rest, but he’ll be back at practice tomorrow. Not sure if it was food poising or something of that nature, but he’ll be back ready to go.”
OSU coach Craig Robinson:
(What did you think about Overton?) “I told him that he reminded me more of a Chicago guard. He just plays so physical and so tough. He uses his hands and his feet so well. He plays a subordinate role, but that kid might be the key to that team. Just from a defensive standpoint he was the reason they turned it around in the first half.”