Huskies put on shooting clinic in win

LAHAINA, Maui - Washington tied a school record for three-pointers Monday night in the first round of the Maui Invitational, blitzing Virginia 106-63 in front of a partisan UW crowd at the Lahaina Civic Center. The 17 treys ties a mark set in 2006 when the Huskies played Nicholls State, but in that game the Huskies were 17-for-33. In this game they were an astonishing 17-26.

With the win, Washington now gets a chance at Kentucky Tuesday 4:30 p.m. Maui time for the right to play in the championship game against either Michigan State or Connecticut.

The Huskies knew this game could be the start of big things for them on the national stage, and they got right to work, building a nine-point lead by the second media timeout of the first half.

"It's the Maui Invitational," junior co-captain Isaiah Thomas said. "You hear so much about it, so we wanted to come out and do things right. I'm a winner, and you have to do anything you can to win these ball games."

"Seeing this tournament on TV, you know it's a big tournament," added co-captain Justin Holiday. "Now we're the team that other people are watching."

They didn't disappoint. The three-pointers started coming; two in a row by freshman guard C.J. Wilcox and another by Thomas, gave UW a 20-point lead at the 7:13 mark. By the end of the half, Washington was 8-9 from deep, the only miss coming from Thomas on their last attempt of the half.

Wilcox and true freshman Terrence Ross led the Huskies with four made treys, while Thomas added three. Justin Holiday made his two attempts, and Scott Suggs chipped in two more. All told, seven Washington players made shots from behind the arc, including Darnell Gant, who registered his first made three of the season.

Even freshman walk-on Antoine Hosley got into the action in mop-up time, burying a three-pointer from the left elbow with 1:44 left in the game. The 17 made threes ended up two shots short of the all-time Maui Invitational record - 19 - set in 1990 by Loyola-Marymount against Chaminade.

Overall, Washington shot 58 percent for the game (40-69). They barely shot better from the free throw line (.692) than they did from three (.652).

"It was a great team effort, and you take those because you don't get a shooting effort like that every day," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. There's no way I would have predicted we would score that many points against that kind of system. What was there was a high level of focus - on the defensive end, on the boards - and that helped us with our shooting."

The pro-Husky crowd, begging for the 'Human Victory Cigar' - Brendan Sherrer - to put his mark on the scoreboard, came away disappointed. But that was the only thing that went wrong for the Huskies, as they dominated every single aspect of the game - from points to rebounds to assists to steals to points in the paint, points off turnovers, fast break points and bench scoring.

"We were thoroughly outplayed in every facet of the game," Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett added. "When they have an open look - at least for tonight - they don't miss. We were not sound enough. We were very inexperienced, and it showed. It did get out of hand. Twenty-six points off of turnovers…we got sped up."

Washington outscored the Cavaliers 18-0 on the fast break and forced UVA into 17 turnovers. The Huskies continued to share the ball well, tallying 22 assists, led by the six of sophomore guard Abdul Gaddy.

The 106 points is not the most ever for a Romar-coached UW team in a pre-season tournament; that record goes to the 2006 team, who scored a whopping 118 points in a 118-51 win over Morgan State in the first round of the BCA Classic at Hec Ed.

Virginia was led by the 19 points of true freshman Joe Harris, who played his high school basketball in Lake Chelan. "I joked with Joe about what he was doing a year ago," Bennett said of the 6-foot-5 guard. "I think he was playing against Ephrata."

Knowing the team has to play three games in three days because of the tournament format, arguably the best part about the win was how Romar was able to spread minutes throughout his lineup: Gaddy played the most minutes - 26, while co-captains Thomas and Holiday both played 24. Reserve guard Suggs played 23 minutes, and Gant played 22. Those five were the only ones to log more than 20 minutes.

And the Huskies' bench responded to the challenge, scoring 50 points to the Cavaliers' 23. Two of the five UW players that scored in double-figures were not in their starting five; C.J. Wilcox with 17 and freshman guard Terrence Ross with 12 points.

"Don't touch C.J.'s right arm," Romar said half-jokingly as he left the post-game press conference. But Wilcox's 17 points was a career-high for the freshman guard from Utah.

"I was shocked when I came in here, how small it was - it was like a high school gym," Wilcox said. "It was like my high school gym back home, so I felt really comfortable out there."

It seemed like many of the Huskies had flashbacks to their prep days when the basket looked as big as a hoola-hoop. "It looked real big, I guess," Thomas said. "We're not going to shoot like that every game, but coach says for us to be aggressive and take the best shot possible."

"I know they are explosive, you can see it," Bennett remarked. "We held them to two points under their season average, so that's something, isn't it?

His remark was tongue-in-cheek, especially since the Cavaliers didn't hold the Huskies below their season average (it's 104 a game). "Lorenzo's got a heck of a team," he added. "They are deep. They keep coming with guards and they are a beautiful shooting team."
Statistics:
Points: Thomas 18, Wilcox 17, Gaddy 12, Ross 12, Holiday 11, Bryan-Amaning 8, N'Diaye 8, Suggs 8, Gant 7, Hosley 3, Overton 2
Rebounds: Holiday 9, Thomas 6, Bryan-Amaning 4, Gant 4, Suggs 4, N'Diaye 3 Wilcox 3, Overton 2, Ross 2, Gaddy 1, TEAM 1
Assists: Gaddy 6, Thomas 4, Overton 4, Wilcox 4, Holiday 2, N'Diaye 2
Steals: Holiday 6, Thomas 1, Suggs 1
Blocks: N'Diaye 2, Gant 1, Holiday 1


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