Huskies get defensive in win over Stanford

With the end of the 2006-07 basketball season drawing rapidly closer, the Dawgs finally seem to be pointed in the right direction. An all out defensive effort against the Stanford Cardinal Sunday afternoon brought the Huskies a 64-52 win and kept the team's slim NCAA tournament hopes alive.

On the heels of a disappointing start to conference play, a rapidly improving Washington Huskies squad, fresh off a "must win" victory Thursday night against Cal, faced another do or die game Sunday afternoon against the Stanford Cardinal.

The surprising Cardinal entered the game with a 7-4 conference record, were ranked 25th in the AP poll and were winners of 4 of their last five Pac 10 games despite losing to Washington State Thursday evening. The Huskies entered the game red hot, riding a momentum surge of their own with victories in four of their last five.

After enduring a heartbreaking one point loss to the Cardinal in Palo Alto, January 11th, the Dawgs were looking to send a message to Stanford's seven-foot Lopez twins who throttled Washington defensively the last time the two teams met. A hammer to the head might have been less painful.

Spencer Hawes (18 pts, 7 boards), looking to establish himself in the post right away after being manhandled in the first meeting, started off the game with a twirling, left side lay in, followed by an inside out dish to a reinvigorated Quincy Pondexter (8 pts, 4 boards) who buried the shot from 17 feet. Passing Christian Welp for third-place on the all-time freshman scoring list, Hawes was just getting started, and tonight a concerted effort by the Husky post players made sure the message rang loud and clear.

Hawes wasn't the only Husky looking to make a statement in the paint. Pondexter, reinserted into the starting lineup Thursday against Cal and playing with a confidence not seen since the conference play began, buried several early buckets off dribble penetration.

Not to be forgotten, Captain John Brockman, notching his 11th double-double of the season (14 pts, 10 boards) turned in another sterling performance down low, while his teammates fed off his seemingly unending energy.

Stanford didn't go quietly, or at least they tried not to.

Lacking any momentum in the low blocks, the Cardinal turned to leading scorer Jordan Hill (15 points) who lit up the Dawgs from outside in the first half before falling silent the remainder of the game. Despite being unable to muster any consistent offense from anyone else, the Cardinal only found themselves down only by two at the half.

The second half was all Washington as a concentrated defensive effort by the Huskies, overwhelmed the visitors. Holding Stanford to just nine points in the first 17 minutes of the second half, Washington forced a season high 19 turnovers with both Pondexter and Ryan Appleby (11 points, 2 asst) credited for three steals each.

In the end, it was the Dawgs' relentless energy that was the true star of the game. The Husky defensive motor never quit, and the best defensive effort of the season was the result. Despite a miserable shooting performance by the guards, the intensity of the defensive effort never waned, and the Dawgs ultimately walked away with an easy victory.

The Huskies now prepare to face their cross-state rival, 14th-ranked Washington State on Wednesday night at Hec Ed. The Cougars gave Washington one of their worst losses of the season last month when they handed the Huskies a 75-47 loss in Pullman. Top Stories