Huskies Handle Belmont

SEATTLE - In the second day of the Athletes in Action Basketball Classic at Bank of America Arena, the Washington Huskies showed glimpses of why expectations are high for them this season. With a convincing 96-78 victory, the Huskies proved to be in a different class than the Bruins of Belmont University.

Although there was still some early season struggles showing, as can be expected, the UW team played energetic on the defensive end and worked the ball on offensive to get good looks.

Even as the Huskies began to pull away late in the game, the defensive pressure was as intense as in the beginning of the game, and the Bruins had no answer but to throw up forced shots all game long.

On the offensive end of the court, Husky Head Coach Lorenzo Romar had his team playing in near mid-season form with everything in sync, even from the free throw line, where they finished 25-29 and were at one point 15-15. Leading the way Saturday night was Quincy Pondexter, Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning with 25, 23 and 23 points respectively.

In a game that may not be seen as a difficult one, Romar said the team took a step forward tonight.

"Progress today. Eleven assists on 22 baskets last night and 32 baskets with 17 assists for us (tonight) and 10 turnovers. We're making progress," Romar said. "We made progress on the boards tonight; a number of people were attacking the glass."

Although the Huskies showed why there is a buzz in the air about this team, they also showed that it's early still early in the season and they aren't quite clicking on all cylinders.

At the 5:04 mark in the first half, the Bruins finished off a good run and were able to creep back into the game and tie it at 34 due to hot shooting from the perimeter. To counter the bad spell, Romar brought in freshmen Clarence Trent for the first time in his Husky career, which in turn created a quick spark as he grabbed a rebound on the defensive end.

The Huskies then proceeded to go down the court where they missed a jumper, but Trent fought for the rebound and forced the ball out of bounds off of the Bruins' Mick Hedgepeth. Trent in-bounded the ball to Pondexter, who put up the easy two that led to an eventual 11-0 run.

Capitalizing on the momentum, the Huskies propelled themselves into half with a comfortable lead of 49-39. In the second half, it became the Bryan-Amaning show.

The Huskies came out with three point guards (Thomas, Abdul Gaddy and Venoy Overton) and Bryan-Amaning took advantage of it by scoring eight of the first 10 points of the half for UW in just over three minutes. Belmont tried to double-team him, but it didn't matter, as he continually went back to his right handed hook shot that the taller Bruins had no answer for.

For Romar, the key for Bryan-Amaning is to remain confident even when his shot is not falling.

"Usually with Matt, if something goes well early, the rest of the game usually goes pretty well for him," Romar said. "What Matt has to do is if it doesn't go well early is to continue to play and wait for that opportunity for things to go his way."

Pondexter also said that this game should be what Washington fans can expect out of Bryan-Amaning as the season wears on.

"He's been working his tail of in the weight room and the gym to get better and help fill Jon Brockman's shoes and not have it be one of those things that people look at as a weakness of our team," said the senior captain. "He's a tremendous talent and I think one of the best big men in the Pac-10. I think he will have the opportunity to prove that this year."

As the half wore on, the Huskies looked more and more like a team winding up their season, as opposed to being just two games in.

With the UW team 11 players deep, there was no letting up on either end of the ball. Everyone was working to prove their worth in this early season game. Also making his debut at the end of the game was walk-on sophomore Brendan Sherrer, which was met with a thunderous ovation from the Dawg Pack.

The Huskies will conclude the Athletes in Action Basketball Classic Sunday night when they take on their neighbor from the south in Portland State. Game time is at 7 p.m.
Statistics:
Points: Pondexter 25, Bryan-Amaning 23, Thomas 23, Gaddy 8, Holiday 4, Suggs 3, Turner 3, Breshers 3, Gant 2, Overton 2
Rebounds: Pondexter 11, Bryan-Amaning 7, Thomas 7, Suggs 5, Trent 4, Breshers 4, Overton 3, Gaddy 3, Gant 1, Holiday 1, Turner 1, TEAM 1
Assists: Overton 3, Thomas 3, Pondexter 3, Gaddy 2, Turner 2, Gant 1, Trent 1, Suggs 1, Holiday 1
Steals: Thomas 2, Bryan-Amaning 1, Gaddy 1, Suggs 1, Turner 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 5


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