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Husky Men's Basketball

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March 18, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Marquette post-game analysis

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Photo credit: Seattle Times – Cliff Despeaux
Roles are defined. That’s Washington’s secret. Isaiah Thomas let everyone know the source of UW’s phenomenal turnaround.
“I’ve always told my teammates to keep the faith and anything can happen,” he said. “Players found their roles and they love doing what they do. A guy like Venoy (Overton), he loves playing defense. You’ve got to excel at something you do great and you keep doing great at it.”
Overton and Justin Holiday provided lock-down defense on the perimeter and Matthew Bryan-Amaning defended the basket. Elston Turner sank three-pointers. Thomas did a little bit of everything.
And Quincy Pondexter (above) hit a game-winning shot.
Does it even matter he was 1 for 7 from the field and 2 for 6 from the line in the first half? More importantly, Pondexter recovered from his shooting woes in the second half and he had the confidence to take the biggest shot of his life in the final seconds.
Normally Pondexter likes to drive right, but Marquette’s Jimmy Butler shaded that way and forced him left. Pondexter took a few hard dribbles, got the angle on Butler and managed to get up a good shot under duress.
You see plays like that in the NBA all the time, but rarely do you see it at the college level. Washington ran the play several times last month at Stanford in the final minutes and the Huskies used it again tonight.
But there’s the funny thing, coach Lorenzo Romar didn’t call a timeout in the final seconds. He also didn’t call the game-winning play.
Once Pondexter secured a long rebound after Thomas’ missed three-pointer, he went to the top of the key and everyone spaced the floor giving him room to operate.
“Guys just kind of know what to do in that situation,” Thomas said. “It’s no different than coming up with something at the end of the shot clock. If it’s me or Quincy or anybody else, we flatten it out and let somebody make a play. And he did a great job of that.”
Pondexter finished with 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting and a game-high 11 rebounds. He also had two assists, two blocks, two steals and two turnovers.
Entering the game, Pondexter was tied with Eldridge Recasner (1,743) for fourth place on UW’s all-time scoring list. He’s now alone in fourth and is 14 points shy of passing Bob Houbregs (1,774) for third place. Chris Welp leads with 2,073 followed by Jon Brockman (1,805).

isaiah vs marquette.jpg
— If not for Pondexter’s late-game heroics, Thomas (left) is the star of this contest. He scored 17 points in the first half, which kept UW in the game and the Huskies needed a lock-down defender on Darius Johnson-Odom, Thomas asked Romar for the assignment.
“In the second half, my assignment was to stop Odom. I didn’t care about anything else. I told Romar, let me guard him. I didn’t care about scoring. I was finding guys. Elston was hitting shots and guys stepped up. I’m so happy for these dudes.”
It can’t be overstated how valuable Thomas is to the Huskies. Johnson-Odom blew past everyone in the first half including Holiday and Pondexter on the way to 13 points. When Thomas got on him, he scored six.
Thomas also had three assists in the first half and six in the second when he focused more on being a playmaker.
And one final note on Thomas, he played 40 minutes.
— Turner is finally playing like the player everyone imagined. Last year’s tournament game against Purdue looked like a breakout game, but he was very inconsistent this season. Tonight, he was amazing connecting on 5 of 6 shots, including 4 of 5 behind the arc for 14 points.
— Holiday also showed long-ball prowess draining a pair of treys in the opening minutes. He didn’t have a great defensive game, but Romar showed faith in Holiday assigning him to Lazar Haywadr (below) on the final play. Not sure how much Holiday forced the miss, but his long arms and made the half-court shot difficult.
— Bryan-Amaning provided a big-body presence in the middle. He had two blocks in the first half, which set the defensive tone and gave notice there would not be any easy layups. It was obvious Bryan-Amaning was winded at times in the first half chasing Lazar Hayward on the perimeter. Bryan-Amaning played 25 minutes.
— Overton was hampered by foul problems – he had three- but he did a good job in the second half not picking up his fourth foul. Overton has to know the Huskies need him on the court. It’s important he harasses the opposing guard, but it’s just as important he pushes the offense and scores on those hard-driving layups.
— And finally, UW shot 55.6 percent in the first half and 53.6 percent in the second. That’s balance. The Huskies had 21 assists on 30 field goals and they converted 9 of 14 three-pointers. Washington also won the rebounding battle 28-22.
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