Dawgs don't spill the wine against T-Birds

Tonight's game against Southern Utah had upset written all over it. The Huskies staggered out of the gate, coughing up the rock eight times in the first five minutes of play, looking scattered and unfocused on offense. Had it not been for the smothering blanket woven by the Husky defenders and the red-hot hand of Ryan Appleby, the early five point Thunderbird lead could have easily been worse.

But UW prevailed 87-72 Monday night behind Appleby's career-high 24 points.

"I thought our guys were solid, with the exception of the 21 turnovers. I thought we played as good as we have played all year," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "That was the game that we have been looking for, where we put together 40 minutes of sound basketball. Southern Utah is a good basketball team, a solid basketball team."

The Thunderbirds (6-3), last year's NCAA three-point champions and recent victors over Utah just two weeks prior, came into the game with an upset on the brain, and they went to work down low early on the Huskies (7-0). Spencer Hawes, matched up against Southern Utah's 7-2 center Brad Kanis, picked up two early fouls and was quickly sent to the bench. Hawes was a non factor in the half, though he did manage to score 6 points on 2-6 shooting.

But the second half could have been named "The Spencer Hawes Show" - directed by Justin Dentmon. Racing to a quick 20-point lead, Hawes demonstrated his dazzling display of low-post moves along with several easy buckets, feeding off a steady diet of interior passes courtesy of the sophomore guard Dentmon and company. Hawes finished the night with 21 points on 9 of 14 shooting and blocked three shots.

But in all reality - this game was all about Appleby. Leaving no doubt about his role on this team, the junior from Stanwood caught fire midway through the first half and never let up. Shooting a blistering 5-6 from the three point line as well a blitzing the lane for another two buckets, Appleby tallied an astounding 21 points in the half, already eclipsing his career high of 18.

Southern Utah, weary of Appleby's skills from outside, kept a hand in his face most of the second half limiting his open looks and freeing Spencer to work his magic in the paint. Appleby finished with 24 points on white-hot 9 of 11 shooting.

"When he shoots the ball like that you don't think he is ever going to miss, like ever," Romar said of Appleby's night. "Like the kids say, 'infinity.' You just don't think he is going to miss."

Not to be outdone, Phil Nelson - noticeably wound up prior to the start of the game - buried two three-pointers while being a constant presence around the rim, tallying 10 point and 3 rebounds to close the first half. His length and active hands frustrated the smaller Thunderbirds, who had no answer for lanky freshman from Keizer, Ore.

Dentmon started slowly on offense, making a couple of early turnovers before finding his groove. The team's ball control improved dramatically over the course of the half, largely due to Dentmon's pin-point passing and execution in transition - ending the half with 7 points and 6 assists.

He was felled by cramps towards the end of the game but still managed a double-double, scoring 11 points to go along with 11 assists (a career-high) and 4 boards. Dentmon looked very much the floor general tonight, limiting Southern Utah point guard and leading scorer Steve Barnes to 12 points on 3 of 9 shooting.

Paced by the explosive play of guard Justin Allen (20 points on 7-15 shooting), the Thunderbirds caught the young Huskies sleeping in the lane on several occasions, and showed no fear despite the Dawgs relentless pressure defense.

The Dawgs' energy and hustle, keyed by Brockman, Quincy Pondexter and Phil Nelson, were too much for the Thunderbirds, who were totally out-muscled and out-scrapped under the hoop. During one possession that lasted nearly a minute and a half, the Dawgs scraped and clawed to the tune of 7 rebounds, rendering Southern Utah helpless to do anything but stand by and watch the steady torrent of Husky rebounders soar over their heads.

"I thought we did a good job on the boards in the first half," Romar said. "I thought in the second half we didn't box out like we should have, 14 (Southern Utah) offensive rebounds is too many offensive rebounds."

Though Brockman was quiet on the offensive end, he was a terror down low, hammering his way to 7 points and 12 boards in 24 minutes. Quincy Pondexter also had a quiet night, at least by his early standards, ending with 12 points and 4 boards.

This was by far, the Dawgs best performance of the year, and a good tune up against a quality opponent heading into Spokane to face the Gonzaga this coming Saturday.
Notes:
Ryan Appleby's 24 points is a career high for the junior. His previous career high was 18, set against Loyola-Marymount on Nov. 25, 2005.

Appleby also tied a career high with six three-pointers made. His previous high in three-pointers was set against Loyola-Marymount on Nov. 25, 2005. The school record is seven, last set by Senque Carey in 1999 against Old Dominion. Appleby is shooting 43.9 percent from behind the arc so far this season.

Justin Dentmon's 11 assists is a career high for the sophomore. His previous high of nine was set against Loyola Marymount last year. His previous high this season was six, against Sacramento State.

Spencer Hawes' 21 points is a season-high for the frosh. His previous high of 16 was set against Northern Iowa.

Jon Brockman recorded his fourth double-digit rebounding effort of the season. The sophomore is averaging 9.9 boards/game.

Washington shot 58.3% from the field, a new season high for the Huskies. Tonight marks the fourth time this season that Huskies have shot over 50%. 52.9% against Pepperdine, 55.9% against Nicholls State, 54.2% against Sacramento State, and 58.3% tonight.

Washington recorded its 24th consecutive regular-season non-conference victory.

The Huskies won their 13th straight home game and the 46th win in their last 48 games at Bank of America Arena
Statistics:
Points: Appleby 24, Hawes 21, Pondexter 12, Dentmon 11, Nelson 10, Brockman 7, Gasser 2
Rebounds: Brockman 12, Pondexter 4, Dentmon 4, Appleby 4, Nelson 4, Hawes 3, Gasser 3, TEAM 2, Oliver 1,
Assists: Dentmon 11, Pondexter 2, Gasser 2, Hawes 1, Burmeister 1, Appleby 1, Nelson 1
Steals: Dentmon 3, Pondexter 2, Brockman 1, Appleby 1, Nelson 1
Blocks: Hawes 3, Brockman 1


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