"I think right now we're playing as well as well as we've played in our six games in terms of playing right," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Our momentum...the arrow is pointing up. We've got a month to get it right. But we've made progress."
Pondexter, the junior from Fresno, Calif., has been as bad as his zero points against Portland and as good as his 15 points and nine rebounds the very next game against Cleveland State. In some ways Pondexter has been a microcosm of the Huskies' uneven play since their exhibition win over Western Washington.
"I was really down on myself and I was just finding my way with this team, trying to figure out where I fit in as far as doing well," Pondexter said after the win. "I want us to win. I have no goals for myself; I just want to win."
It's certainly not for a lack of effort. After every home game so far this season Pondexter has been seen heading to the gym for a workout, often with his father Roscoe - who played for Lute Olson at Long Beach State - in tow.
Saturday he hit his first shot against the Tigers - a 3-pointer - and that seemed to catalyze his play.
"I think sometimes he's really hard on himself," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. Sometimes he's his own worst critic, and maybe overthinks sometimes as a result. But I was really, really pleased with how he played today. He went out there and got lost in the game.
"He didn't play a highlight reel-type game, but he played as solid of an all-around basketball game since he's been here," Romar added. "He rebounded, took good shots, played within himself. He did a good job."
Overall Pondexter had 16 points and 12 rebounds, nine of each in the first half, as Washington (3-3) was able to pull away from the Tigers (2-2) in the second half. It was his first double-double since scoring 11 points and taking down 11 rebounds at USC last year.
"You can't write me off yet," Pondexter said. "People do that all the time. I just laugh at that stuff."
Jon Brockman added 13 points and six boards, while Justin Dentmon chipped in 15 points for the Huskies.
"Our guys have learned how to play off of Jon, and Jon has learned how to feed the other guys when teams try to take him away, and it's happened quite often," Romar said of Brockman. "Our guys are comfortable making a play when he throws it back outside."
Federal Way's Terrell Smith led Pacific with 12 points, and Seattle Prep grad Chad Troyer was the only other Tiger in double-digits with 10. "Obviously we didn't win, but it was nice getting to play in front of all the friends and family," Troyer said. "I had people that have known me my whole life here. It will be fun to see some more people too."
Despite only shooting .500 from the free throw line, Washington was six of eight during a key stretch after they found themselves in the bonus with 8:59 left in the game. Smith tried to bring UP back with two buckets to bring the Tigers back to within 10, but a Darnell Gant jam from the baseline with 2:40 left ignited a closing 6-0 run to give the Huskies their final margin of victory.
"They pressed us really hard and they played really tough and they deserved to win the game," Pacific Head Coach Bob Thomason said.
The Tigers tried everything they could to frustrate and confuse Washington's guards, mixing up their zone and man defense and even extending trap so UW would have to pass over the top. It resulted in 19 total turnovers, but the Huskies were able to extract just as many from their opponents. They also provided a lot of help on the backside while playing the ball more aggressively, leading to eight steals.
"In spite of the turnovers and missed free throws, we still made progress," Romar said. "There were definitely more positives."
"We're trying to do too much on the first play without moving the ball around," Dentmon added when asked about the turnovers. "Once we get the defense moving, then we know what we've got. We cut the turnovers down, our offense looks decent."
Offensively Washington continued to try and show patience, while at the same time work the offensive glass in their trademark style. Overall the Huskies out-borded Pacific 22-6 on offense and 46-20 overall. "Washington is a great rebounding team and obviously we're not, so we've got to work on that," Thomason said afterward.
The Huskies finished off the first half strong, scoring the last seven points highlighted by a Dentmon 3-point shot from the top of the key. They continued their hot hand from the Florida game, shooting 54 percent in the first half and 48 percent for the game. Dentmon, in particular, has been very solid; since their Kansas loss he's been 11-19 from the field, including 7-10 from deep.
"I shoot better when shots are coming to me within the offense, so I tried to wait even though I wanted to get going early," Dentmon said. "I'm feeling more comfortable. I even shoot during the off-days, just to keep my rhythm steady."
Points: Pondexter 16, Dentmon 15, Brockman 13, Thomas 9, Bryan-Amaning 7, Gant 6, Overton 2, Turner 2, Wolfinger 2
Rebounds: Pondexter 12, Brockman 6, Gant 6, Thomas 6, Turner 4, Dentmon 3, Bryan-Amaning 2, Wolfinger 2, TEAM 2, Overton 1, Wallace 1, Holiday 1
Assists: Thomas 4, Brockman 2, Overton 2, Pondexter 1, Dentmon 1, Holiday 1, Turner 1
Steals: Thomas 2, Dentmon 2, Pondexter 1, Brockman 1, Bryan-Amaning 1, Turner 1
Blocks: Brockman 1
Dawgs Take Bite out of Pacific
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