Sweet run continues for Huskies

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Dairese Gary tried to do it all for the New Mexico Lobos, but he was no match for the Washington Huskies, as they defeated the Lobos 82-64 at the HP Pavilion of San Jose. The Huskies will now travel to Syracuse for the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament, where they will face either West Virginia or Missouri in the Carrier Dome.

The Huskies, who will play their third Sweet 16 game under Lorenzo Romar, were led by the 18 points of senior forward Quincy Pondexter, and the 15 apiece by Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas. Elston Turner added 10 points for UW.

Brendan Sherrer, the Huskies appointed 'Human Victory Cigar' came in with 1:26 remaining to a standing ovation from the UW faithful, and almost got on the scoreboard but couldn't put down two free throws.

It's the ninth-straight win for UW, arguably one of the hottest teams in the country.

"We've played 35 games this year and I think our team would agree that that's the best team that's played against us in any given night," New Mexico Head Coach Steve Alford said. "We didn't do some things well tonight, but I thought Washington was terrific.

"They're extremely fast, they put a lot of heat on you defensively, it's a well-balanced team with a deep bench, and they took advantage of some of our lack of experience and you've got to give them credit because I thought they were an outstanding basketball team."

Gary had 25 in a losing effort for the Lobos (30-5), the first-ever 30-win New Mexico team in school history. Darington Hobson added 11 and Roman Martinez 10 after having to leave the game to get stitches after being cut above his left eye.

"He hurt us single-handedly," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said of Gary's efforts. "All the shots they were getting were directed by him, early. We noticed that he was controlling everything and we adjusted the way we were defending the ball screen."

The Huskies had it in their minds to run New Mexico up and down the floor, especially on made baskets, and they used a bench that went 12-deep to wear the Lobos down physically and mentally. They did so with effectiveness, only allowing Gary to be the only New Mexico player to score from the 11:52 mark of the first half.

Until Hobson scored on a layup with 17:22 left in the game, Gary had scored 15 straight for New Mexico. During that stretch the Huskies held UNM to 7-23 shooting, and they took a 12-point lead and built on it in the second half, their advantage bulging to as many as 23 points three times.

"We did a great job of forcing our tempo on them," Pondexter said. "We knew they were a transition team going into this game, and we wanted to show that we have another level of fast break and defensive intensity. That's what really wore them down and helped us get the win."

UW used another hot-shooting performance, especially from 3-point range, to extend their lead. Thomas had four treys and Turner two, as the Huskies combined for 8-17 (.471) from deep. They shot 64 percent from 3-point range in their first-round game against Marquette, and have shot over 44 percent from range for the third-straight game.

And despite the soul-shredding pace, it was arguably the Huskies' most efficient effort, coming up with 21 assists spread out between 10 players, and only five turnovers. Thomas led the charge with seven dimes, giving him 15 so far in the tournament. The only other game this year where UW had five or less turnovers was at Stanford on February 13.

Defensively, Washington held UNM to below their season average in field goal shooting percentage (44/39), 3-point shooting percentage (37/29), free throw shooting percentage (67/41), assists (14/7), blocks (3.5/1) and steals (6.8/1). The only categories where the Lobos held their own were turnovers (11/11) and rebounds (38/38).

It's also the third win for the Pac-10 conference with their two team (Washington and California). California defeated Louisville 77-62 Friday in Jacksonville. The Big East, who started with eight seeds, is already down to three (Syracuse, West Virginia and Pittsburgh). The Huskies may face their second Big East team in the tournament - West Virginia - if they get by the Tigers on Sunday.

"I think a lot of people had bad judgments about our conference and the nonconference season, but once we got to Pac-10, a lot of players that were young started to play tough basketball," Pondexter said. "It was tough, not a pushover league and we had to battle every game."
Points: Pondexter 18, Bryan-Amaning 15, Thomas 15, Turner 10, Overton 6, Holiday 5, Gaddy 5, Suggs 5, Trent 2, Gant 1
Rebounds: Bryan-Amaning 9, Holiday 7, Pondexter 5, TEAM 5, Gant 4, Overton 3, Trent 3, Thomas 2, Turner 2
Assists: Thomas 7, Holiday 4, Gaddy 3, Bryan-Amaning 1, Pondexter 1, Overton 1, Suggs 1, Turner 1, Breshers 1, Gant 1
Blocks: Holiday 3, Bryan-Amaning 2, Gant 2
Steals: Holiday 3, Thomas 2, Turner 1

Dawgman.com Top Stories