UW blitzes Bears; losing skid is history

SEATTLE - Washington used a punishing man-to-man defense and balanced scoring to lift the cloud over their three-game losing skid and rout California 109-77 Thursday night at Alaska Airlines Arena. Coupled with their 92-71 win over the Golden Bears in Berkeley, this game put to rest any fears that their road hangover would continue.

"Obviously you play better at home," Matthew Bryan-Amaning said after the game. "Most teams do. But at the same time, we know how we've played the last three games and we had a great week of practice. Intensity was up, no one was feeling sorry for themselves. Everybody went at each other."

"Well for us it all starts on the defensive end," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar added. "Defensive energy, focus, and concentration allows us to be a better basketball team.

"We kind of got away from it.  For me it's like that picture on the house that you see every day, then someone comes to your house and says your picture's crooked and you didn't realize it because you see it every day.  Someone else needed to point that out, and I think those losses pointed it out."

Isaiah Thomas' 23 points paced six Huskies in double figures, as Washington (16-7, 8-4) raced out to an early 21-8 lead - courtesy of back-to-back three-point baskets by Thomas - and never looked back. The junior from Tacoma also added nine assists.

"He was aggressive today," Bryan-Amaning said of Thomas' game. "He picked his spots. Obviously he shot really well from three, and when he's doing that he's pretty much unguardable. When he's knocking down shots and he's getting everyone involved, he's pretty much unstoppable."

They led at halftime 58-34 and continued to pour it on, leading by as many as 38 a couple of times during the second half. Bryan-Amaning chipped in 18 for UW, while C.J. Wilcox added 14, Justin Holiday 12, and Scott Suggs and Terrence Ross 11 each.

Playing at home has seemingly always been the recipe for Washington, regardless if they are playing well or not at the time, and this game proved to be no different. The formula for UW success was documented early on this year; stifling defense catalyzed the Huskies' transition and secondary transition, and their confidence on the offensive end would grow with their ability to score both inside and outside. To say that formula was used to great success Thursday would be an understatement.

"We felt like if we got out and played hard on defense it would help our offense flow that much easier," Thomas said. "The last few games we lost we didn't get any stops so it made our offense look stagnant and it looked like we were just shooting threes the whole time. We just wanted to come out and play hard and we did that.

Washington's man pressure, coupled with their back-side help near the basket, allowed them to get a number of block/charge calls in their favor - normally a great sign that Washington is defending the way they are capable of. Suggs alone had at least three in the second half.

"Once you hear the Dawg Pack on defense, you know you're back to how we're supposed to be," Bryan-Amaning said. "That's the first game where we've had so many charges in a while. Our help-side defense was in place. We ended up with 11 blocked shots. We put it in play tonight."

California (13-11, 6-6) tried to get back in the game via some Washington foul trouble, but could only convert 19 of their team-high 37 attempts. The Golden Bears lost freshman shooting guard Allen Crabbe at the 9:32 mark of the first half after he was hit in the head by an inadvertent Aziz N'diaye knee during a scramble when the big UW center was up in the air trying to deflect Crabbe's shot. California Head Coach Mike Montgomery said after the game that Crabbe suffered a mild concussion.

Jorge Gutierrez scored a game-high 24 points for California, backed up by the 13 points apiece of Markhuri Sanders-Frison and Jeff Powers, a little-used freshman guard who had played only 13 combined minutes until Thursday's game. He played 11 minutes backing up Crabbe against the Huskies.

The Huskies dominated in every single statistical category: Their .566 overall shooting percentage (43-76) was their best effort in Pac-10 play; their .548 shooting from three (17-31) was also their best, topping their .448 effort at Cal, where they were 13-29. They bested the Bears in rebounds (37-33), assists (30-13), turnovers (9-16), blocks (11-1) and steals (4-3). They scored more points in the paint, 48-36; more points off turnovers, 25-13; more second-chance points, 23-15; more fast-break points, 8-7; and more bench points, 39-28.

"The main focus was to come out and play hard, no matter who was scoring, who was getting the assists, we just wanted to come out and play hard, and we did that," Thomas said.

You could safely argue UW's effort Thursday was second only to their first-round thumping of Virginia in the Maui Invitational when it comes to showing what they can do when they decide to unleash a comprehensive performance on both ends of the court.

"When you're in man (defense), you can take other teams off their sets," Holiday said. "We took them out of a lot of their quick-hitters and a lot of their inside play. It puts pressure on teams on both ends. When we're scoring the way we are and playing pressure defense on the other end, it makes them tired - especially when they only had a six-man rotation, or whatever they had."
Points: Thomas 23, Bryan-Amaning 18, Wilcox 14, Holiday 12, Suggs 11, Ross 11, Overton 8, N'Diaye 6, Gant 6
Rebounds: Bryan-Amaning 9, Gant 5, Holiday 4, N'Diaye 4, Thomas 4, Ross 4, Suggs 2, Overton 2, Wilcox 2, TEAM 1
Assists: Thomas 9, Overton 7, Ross 6, Holiday 4, Bryan-Amaning 1, Hosley 1, Wilcox 1, Gant 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 4, N'Diaye 3, Holiday 2, Ross 2
Steals: Bryan-Amaning 1, Thomas 1, Overton 1, Sherrer 1

Video courtesy of Kyle McCormick and the UW Athletic Department

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