Huskies claw past EWU

SEATTLE - Washington used a balanced attack - led by the second-straight double-double of Matthew Bryan-Amaning and the 18 points of Justin Holiday to defeat a scrappy Eastern Washington Eagles team and their zone defense 98-72 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion Thursday night.

It wasn't as flashy as their Saturday beatdown of McNeese State, but it was effective nonetheless. The Huskies survived a poor shooting first half - one that saw them shoot 26 percent from three (5-19) to finish the game at nearly 50 percent overall (37-76) - as well as a first half that saw UW 'out-scrapped', according to head coach Lorenzo Romar.

"We were just getting out-scrapped," Romar said. "And that's something we take pride in. We need to be the catalyst in that regard. Offensive rebounds and loose balls is what led to some easy field goals for them. On the other end, they zoned us almost the entire game, which is great, great practice for us to get some reps against the zone.

"It's a lesson. As a team in the non-conference, you're growing. This is not the finished product. We just have to get to where that's how we're playing all the time."

Holiday led Washington (2-0) on 8-13 shooting from the field, and Bryan-Amaning had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

"He's already playing pretty good," Romar said of the senior co-captain. "When people asked me about the summer and who improved, I thought Justin Holiday would be a guy that really improved. He spent a lot of time working on his shot. Justin shot the ball well at the end of last year, and again I continue to remind everyone - he didn't do anything the entire summer. He was shooting the ball pretty good two springs ago, but he got hurt. He came back and didn't have his legs, but once he got his legs last year, he started to shoot the ball well. So I think he's just picking up where he left off."

Abdul Gaddy used a hot hand from outside to tally 13 points, which tied a career-high for the sophomore from Tacoma. He had 13 at Arizona last year. He had three threes on the night, which gives him four so far on the season, one more than he had all of his freshman campaign.

"I thought he played a good game - not just his assists, but he knocked a shot down," Romar said of Gaddy's game. "He shot the ball really well. It's doing wonders for his confidence. But again, it's just amazing how certain things happen when guys get just a little bit older."

Venoy Overton, Isaiah Thomas, Scott Suggs and Terrence Ross all had nine, while C.J. Wilcox chipped in eight points.

It was the first game in twelve for Thomas that he didn't score more than 10 points. He scored five in a loss to USC at home back in February. The junior co-captain did come up with five steals and four assists.

For the Eagles (0-2), four players scored in double-digits, led by the 14 points from reserve guard Kevin Winford. Tremayne Johnson added 13, and Jeffrey Forbes and Cliff Ederaine came up with 10 apiece for EWU.

Eastern came out the aggressor, and actually led 11-8 after the first television timeout at the 14:59 mark. It was when Overton entered the game that Washington started to exhibit signs of life. He made a 3-pointer with 13:36 left to tie things up, and then he had two plays at the 2-minute mark of the first half that may have pushed the senior guard into a starting role for the Huskies' upcoming games at the Maui Invitational. He definitely earned a starting spot for the second half against EWU.

"At first we thought about going with Aziz (N'Diaye) in the second half, just because we were getting out-rebounded, and going back that way," Romar said. "But coach (Jim) Shaw suggested maybe Venoy, and I agreed. We started to turn up the heat, and it seemed like whoever Venoy was guarding they were making someone else bring the ball up. Even though we were smaller, I thought we were quicker when that group was in there, and it made a difference."

He stole a pass and fed Bryan-Amaning with a no-look that the senior center converted into an uncontested jam. As Eastern was bringing the ball back upcourt, Overton again stole the ball, but this time he took it himself for the easy layup - giving UW their largest lead of the half.

"At times in the first half they didn't want to guard us for than 10 to 12 seconds," EWU Head Coach Kirk Earlywine said. "I feel like in the second half they changed that a lot and were playing a lot tougher defense. In the first half we had offensive rebounds that we should have pulled those possessions out, but instead we went for the extra shot and created turnovers.

Overton's stat line was complete; nine points, five rebounds, eight assists and four steals in 25 minutes - the most minutes of any UW player Tuesday night. In fact, the Huskies as a whole really shared the ball well, collecting 28 assists to only 10 turnovers. Between Overton and Gaddy, they had an A/TO ratio of 14/2 by themselves. Washington forced the Eagles into 24 miscues and had 14 steals of their own.

"When I look down at the stat sheet and see that we had 28 assists and only had 10 turnovers and shot nearly 49 percent, I think we did a pretty good job against that zone," Romar said. "Our guys were patient. Our guys found the open areas and really did a good job against them.

"I wasn't concerned about our offense; I thought our offense was fine. We missed some wide-open shots. If we make those, we have a lot more of an outburst in the first half. I was more disappointed by a lack of an edge. We didn't play with that edge all around the floor. We did more in the second half, and within minutes the lead opened up. That's how we're supposed to play."

Earlywine had some lofty praise for the Huskies after the game. "They should have legitimate hopes of playing in to the Final Four," he said of UW. "Their guard play is that good. Overton is such a good on-ball defender. Bryan-Amaning is playing really well in the middle as well, and if their big boy (Aziz) can keep coming along then they will be a very good team. Washington is a team that will continue to get better, and they should have legitimate hopes of making the Final Four."
Points: Holiday 18, Bryan-Amaning 14, Gaddy 13, Overton 9, Thomas 9, Suggs 9, Ross 9, Wilcox 8, N'Diaye 5, Gant 4
Rebounds: Bryan-Amaning 10, Overton 5, Holiday 4, Gaddy 3, Thomas 2, N'Diaye 2, Suggs 2, Wilcox 2, Gant 2, Hosley 1
Assists: Overton 8, Gaddy 6, Suggs 5, Thomas 4, Wilcox 3, Hosley 1, Bryan-Amaning 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 2, Gant 1, N'Diaye 1, Wilcox 1
Steals: Thomas 5, Overton 4, Bryan-Amaning 1, Holiday 1, Gaddy 1, Wilcox 1, Sherrer 1 Top Stories