Photo credit: Jim Bates
Coach Lorenzo Romar summed up the 123-76 victory over Seattle University during his opening comments of the post-game press conference.
“It’s good to be home,” he said exhaling a long sigh.
After suffering a 26-point defeat Saturday at USC and absorbing a last-second loss at UCLA on Thursday, the Huskies laid waste to Seattle U. and handed the Redhawks their worst defeat – a 47-point whupping – in the history of the storied cross-town rivalry.
After beating Oregon State by 51 points two weeks, the Redhawks were expected to give a better showing.
But then maybe SU coach Cameron Dollar is right when he said: “It’s different styles and different matchups. And different nights. … We’re probably not as good as we were against Oregon State obviously and not as bad as we were tonight.
“They (the Huskies) played a style we had a hard time against.”
It’s difficult to draw many meaningful conclusions from a blowout like this. If it were a prize fight, the referees would have stepped in and stopped the fight after UW raced out to an early 18-0 lead and led 61-20 at the half.
At one point in the second half, referee Dick Cartmell called Romar and Dollar together for a sideline summit when the play was getting a little chippy.
Dollar admitted he changed SU’s tactic at halftime. He his players to commit fouls, send the Huskies to the line and hoped they missed. Dollar hoped the new game plan slow down the pace and give the Redhawks a chance to get back in the game.
Of course, that didn’t work. About the only thing it did was turn an ugly game into a 2 1/2-hour foul fest. Both teams combined for 78 fouls, 45 for SU and 33 for UW. The NCAA record is 84 set in 1953 between Arizona (50) and Northern Ariz. (34).
When asked about the sideline summitt, Romar said Cartmell told the coaches: “I don’t care how much you foul, you won’t wear me down. (I’m) going to keep calling them.”
True to his word, the refs sent the Huskies to the line 61 times and they made 46, both school records. SU was 25 of 41 on free throws.
SOME MORE OBSERVATIONS:
— It looks like Venoy Overton is snapping out of whatever funk he was in midway in the season. He was UW’s best player at USC and at times, he was its best player tonight. Overton finished with a career-high 20 points, eight assists, four rebounds, four steals and three turnovers. The most amazing stat? He took just five field goals.
Overton drew a lot of fouls and went to the 19 times, converting 16. His aggressiveness was the difference tonight. He knew he had a quickness advantage over Cervante Burrell and he exploited it every chance he had.
— Quincy Pondexter moved past Brandon Roy and Doug Smart into a ninth-place tie with Deon Luton on the school’s all-time scoring list.
Pondexter brilliantly efficient. He converted 9 of 11 field goals. He was 2 for 2 on three pointers and 7 for 8 on free throws. He finished with 27 points. He collected 11 rebounds, three on the offensive glass. He had three steals and two assists. The only blemish? Five turnovers.
Pondexter also laid to rest any question as to who is the state’s top pro prospect while outplaying Charles Garcia, who had 20 points, seven rebounds and five turnovers. Garcia, the former UW signee, envisioned a different outcome.
— It seems as if Romar has given Justin Holiday the green light to shoot. Holiday had been a defensive ace for most of his college career, but against USC he took a career high 10 shots. Tonight he had nine – sinking six – and scored a career-high 16 points.
— Abdul Gaddy did a little of everything. He scored 10 points, he delivered five assists, he collected five steals, he corralled five rebounds and he three turnovers. Not a bad birthday present for the 18-year-old freshman.
— When Elston Turner shoots the way he did against SU, the Huskies are very good. The mercurial three-point specialist is hard to figure out so why bother. One of the UW coaches told me it’s easier for Turner to shoot in games like these because the pressure is off and he knows the team will get 60 shots.
Turner also had a career high scoring 20 points and connecting on 4 of 6 behind the arc.
— And Scott Suggs wasn’t nearly as accurate on treys (2 for 7), but the long-ball shooter quadrupled his previous career high for FT attempts. He sank 6 of 8.
— The sellout crowd saved its loudest ovation for walk-on Brendan Sherrer, who scored the first two points of his career on a smooth mid-range baseline jumper. He looked a lot like Darnell Gant on that shot.
— And speaking of Gant, about the only disappointment in the 47-point beat down was the absence of UW’s big men in the box score. It’s hard to score 123 points and not have the big guys partake in the scoring frenzy.
Tyreese Breshers looks as if he’s laboring at times and perhaps UW should seriously think about shutting him down for a little while. He played just eight minutes tonight after playing seven on Saturday against USC.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning had a decent outing (eight points and five rebounds), but Gant managed just two in nine minutes.
I’m reminded of a quote from Isaiah Thomas earlier in the season when he said: “We’re only going to go as far as a big men carry us.”
Seemed like this would be a good game to get the big guys on track.
— And speaking of Thomas, he’s ill. Romar said Thomas had nausea Monday night and felt too weak to play. It’s the same stomach illness that overcame Suggs and assistant Jim Shaw. Thomas is expected to return to practice Thursday.
(Can you talk about Venoy Overton and his offensive contributions?) “He was aggressive, made some big plays. He doesn’t score in the conventional way where he’s knocking down shots and perimeter shots. He is just an energy guy. A little like Bobby Jones used to be when he played for us. Bobby would score 18, 19 points and you never run a play for him. He was an energy guy involved in so much. ”
(What did you think of the team’s performance?) “We made a lot of progress tonight and we still have to get things right. We still want to contend for a Pac-10 championship. We know that the league is capable of coming back to us with some teams losing. Our focus is on winning games, taking it one day at a time, one practice at a time, one game. Hopefully the league comes back to us.”
(On the importance on keeping momentum going for the home stand.) “It’s really important. Like Quincy said, we want to win the Pac-10. We know that everything is really close and we have to come out every game and win, no matter if it’s home or away. If our game is at home, we have to protect our house. It’s going to be really important to come out and play well.”
(Did you want it to be a physical game?) “It was less of getting physical and more trying to get in the bonus early. We tried to put them at the line, we tried to see if they could make some free throws–which they actually did miss free throws but we still couldn’t score on the other end.”
(Did you tell your team to foul in the second half?) “Yeah, without obviously doing it crazy or pushing them in the back, we were more trying to go for the ball and see if we could get a steal and be very aggressive going for it. If they call it, they call it. It wasn’t intended to rough them up or be physical, it was to get to the bonus as quick as possible and slow the game down and get them to the line, which we were able to do.”