Feeling down and distraught after an emotionally draining one-point defeat at Arizona, the Huskies received the perfect pick-me-up Tuesday night night.
They toppled cross-town foe Seattle University 95-74 in a feel-good win that allowed them to momentarily forget about the Pac-10 race.
After the game, the Huskies immediately turned their attention toward Sunday’s rematch against Washington State.
“It’s on our mind,” guard Isaiah Thomas said. “They got us good down there. We know what they did. So we’re just going to play hard and see where that takes us.”
Justin Holiday said: “It’s time to get down and get ready to play. … We want this one bad. I think it’s going to be a little different this time.”
Clearly the Huskies are intent on extracting some payback after last month’s 87-80 defeat in Pullman.
But before they could think about WSU, they had to deal with Seattle U.
The Redhawks made it a game for about 28 minutes. Washington led 38-29 at halftime before going on a 20-7 run in the first eight minutes and taking a 58-36 lead with 12:09 remaining.
At that point, the game became a blowout and the biggest concern was avoiding injury.
Despite the lopsided win against an inferior opponent, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said there was much to gain from the 21-point win.
“Take away those turnovers (17), I thought we did a lot of good things out there,” he said. “I thought we did a good job of running offense and making plays and passing the basketball. If we shoot a little better, we have even better offensive production.”
Romar singled out just one player, Aziz N’Diaye (above) who dominated on both ends of the court.
“We did some really good things out there,” Romar said. “Aziz N’Diaye played one of his best games in a long time and probably his best game since Maui. He was a real presence out there. He did a great job for us.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— This game was tailor made for Matthew Bryan-Amaning (above) and the big guy didn’t disappoint. He converted nine of 11 field goals and 6 of 9 free throws for a team-high 24 points. He also collected 13 rebounds, his most Jan. 8. It was a great performance for Bryan-Amaning who feared he might have to start the game on the bench because he left his No. 11 jersey at school. Bryan-Amaning doesn’t warm up in his jersey and normally packs it in his backpack during road games. This time he left it at Hec Ed. Unbeknownst to Romar, the Huskies sent a manager to retrieve the jersey. He he was delayed in traffic. The team managers told Romar just before the game about the jersey mishap and Romar decided to leave Bryan-Amaning in the starting lineup. After the game, Romar wasn’t amused and clearly wasn’t ready to joke about the snafu. Bryan-Amaning was able to chuckle perhaps because he finished with his ninth double double.
— For the third time this season, Washington got a double double from Bryan-Amaning and N’Diaye. The 7-foot center finished with a career-high 15 poitns on 5-of-7 shooting. He also sank 5 of 6 free throws. N’Diaye had perhaps his best game as a Husky. He was impressive finishing around the rim with dunks and baby hooks. He also made a nifty assist to Bryan-Amaning. It was a big bounce-back game for N’Diaye who was benched on Saturday because he was late for a team bus.
— Thomas finished with 20 points, but he had a dreadful time at the free throw line where he was 5 of 10, including his first airball. “That slipped out of my hands,” he said. Thomas smiled after the errant shot. He also threw his hands up as if it say finally, when he missed two free throws before hitting the third. Otherwise it was a very good game for the UW co-captain. He might have had a few more assists, but several UW shooters passed up perimeter shots.
— Productive – but not efficient – game for Holiday who had 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting. He also had five rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block and two turnovers. Holiday also provided the play of the night, an alley-oop slam that he had to lean back to retrieve. It was an amazing play, which brought the house down.
— C.J. Wilcox started in place of Venoy Overton and he struggled offensively. Maybe he was thrown off because he was playing inside KeyArena or making his first start. Whatever the case, the redshirt freshman missed seven of eight field goals and was 1 for 6 on three-pointers. Still Wilcox had a decent game because he collected six rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes.
— If it was a different opponent and if Washington had its full complement of players, maybe Romar wouldn’t have allowed Terrence Ross to play through some of his struggles. But knowing the outcome wasn’t in doubt and perhaps sensing the Huskies need Ross to break out of a three-game slump, Romar stuck with the freshman despite his miscues. Ross had just two points at halftime and he finished with 13 points in 16 minutes. He sank two big three-pointers early in the second half during the spurt that turned the game into a rout. Still it feels a bit premature to say Ross has recovered from the late-season swoon.
— Solid effort from Darnell Gant who did a little bit of everything. He scored 10 points. He collected four rebounds. He distributed two assists. And he blocked two shots in 19 minutes. Very productive night.
— After a string of high-level performances, Overton fell off in a big way. He took one shot and was scoreless before fouling out in 17 minutes. Overton did have three assists.
— Freshman walk-on Antoine Hosley played the final three minutes.
— And finally, I heard during the game there were some ticketing issues, but received a deeper explanation after the game. Turns out hundreds of fans were waiting in line at a will call window that was understaffed.
Here’s an e-mail from a UW fan: “Concerned Dawg Pack member here just wanting to fill you in on what’s going on at key arena, not sure if you’ve heard yet. If the crowd looks sparse inside no worries, we are all outside. I’m estimating there’s about 1000 people outside waiting for their tickets at will call. They have one, yes ONE will call window open. Fans are upset, chants of ‘refund’ are starting. The line line stretches a couple blocks. Ill most likely miss the first half. Terrible experience. No wonder the sonics left.”
And here’s another e-mail from a fan: “Seems that Seattle U was completely unprepared for the fan traffic during their first hosting in many years of the UW-Seattle U rivalry. Will call line was over an hour and a half long at one point while hundreds of fans were stuck outside. One, ONE, will call window was staffed until the 5 min mark of the first half.”
Personally, I feel your pain. Seattle University’s staff does a tremendous job, but the folks at KeyArena just don’t get it. The clean-up crew shut the power along press row after the game, which temporarily knocked KJR’s post-game show off the air. I was one of two reporters asked to relocate off the floor and to the media room because the clean-up crew wanted to turn off the lights. The place just isn’t fan or media friendly. And they wonder why the NCAA tournament will never return to Seattle.
Photo credits: Seattle Times – Mark Harrison