Huskies grind out team win

SEATTLE - The score read 85-68, the winner was Washington Thursday night. The top players for both teams - UW's Isaiah Thomas and Arizona's Derrick Williams each scored 22. But the Huskies used every man available to pull away in the second half while UA Head Coach Sean Miller had to do everything in his power to keep his star in the game.

Justin Holiday also had 22 points for the Huskies (14-4, 6-1), and Matthew Bryan-Amaning chipped in 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Besides Williams' 22 for the visiting Wildcats (15-4, 4-2), Solomon Hill and Lamont 'MoMo' Jones were the other UA players to score in double-figures, with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

The Dawg Pack debuted the 'Roller Coaster', a new chant for the student's section, and the second half of the game was just that - a rollicking ride where Arizona quickly erased a five-point Washington halftime lead and briefly took the lead at 44-43 after a made layup by Jones with 16:05 left in the game.

But two big swing plays pushed the Huskies over the edge. With 11:34 left, Kevin Parrom's shot was partially blocked by Washington's Darnell Gant. Thomas laid out to throw the ball back into play, and put himself half-way through the northeast tunnel at Hec Ed. His teammates waited for him, gave him the ball, and the 5-foot-9 junior co-captain found Gant for the return out on the left elbow. Gant buried the three-pointer, which nearly torched. the newly named 'Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion'. It was the only points the junior from Los Angeles would score, but they couldn't have come at a better time.

"That was big," Thomas said of the play. "I knew the ball was right there and I was going to do whatever I could to get that. And we got it and Darnell knocked down a big three and that kind of changed the momentum to our side and we just kept the lead. That was a big shot by Darnell, I've been on him this whole week, you have to knock these open shots down, and he did.

It was just another game for Thomas, who scored in double-figures for the 16th straight game, and had at least seven assists for the sixth-straight game. Five of his rebounds and six of his assists came in the second half.

"It's not even close," Miller said of Thomas. "There's not one player in the country that is disrespected more than him. In my opinion, if you name Kemba Walker, you name Jimmer Fredette and certainly those two guys deserve all of the accolades, he's right there with those guys. When you start naming the names, whoever these guys are that talk all the time on TV, they need to get some film sent to them of this guy because if they're not mentioning him, it's really an injustice for our conference and it's totally a lack of respect for him because he's a great player."

Ninety seconds later, Williams picked up his fourth foul. Miller was already nursing his star forward, bringing him in and out with situational substitutions starting with 13 minutes left in the game. Every Arizona offensive series, Williams was in; every defensive series, Miller would put in Parrom or Kyryl Natyazhko to spell Williams and keep him away from foul trouble.

Thomas was able to draw that crucial fourth foul and make both foul shots to put UW up seven with 10:04 left. Williams did what he could to keep his team in the game, scoring seven of the Wildcats' next nine points, but a three-pointer by Holiday with 4:53 remaining gave Washington their first double-digit lead, and they played out the string from there.

"Obviously you know that [Williams] is a great player," Bryan-Amaning said.  "Obviously you know that Isaiah is a great player.  But throughout our team, one through ten, I think we've got a couple other good players.  Right now myself, Justin [Holiday], and Isaiah are playing great basketball and we're trying to do it every game."

The Huskies were helped in the final 20 minutes by the rebounding of Bryan-Amaning, Gant, Thomas and Aziz N'Diaye. They got clutch three-point shooting from Holiday, Thomas, Suggs, Ross and Gant.

"We're pretty pleased," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar added after the game. "We were able to come out and beat a good basketball team in Arizona. What I liked the most about it was it was a total team effort.

"It took a total team effort to defend Derrick Williams and the rest of them. It took a team effort on offense."
Statistics: Points: Holiday 22, Thomas 22, Bryan-Amaning 18, Ross 8, Overton 7, Suggs 3, Gant 3, N'Diaye 2
Rebounds: N'Diaye 8, Bryan-Amaning 7, Thomas 6, Gant 6, Overton 4, TEAM 4, Ross 3, Holiday 2, Wilcox 1
Assists: Thomas 10, Holiday 3, Overton 3
Steals: Holiday 2, Thomas 1, Overton 1, Ross 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 3, Gant 2, Holiday 1, N'Diaye 1


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