Mountaineers put an end to Husky Season

West Virginia used a stingy 1-3-1 zone defense and a dominating rebounding performance to defeat the Washington Huskies 69-56 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. The loss ends what can only be considered a successful Husky season at 26-10.

Justin Holiday had 14 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Huskies in both categories. Isaiah Thomas added 13 and Venoy Overton had 10. Quincy Pondexter struggled in his final game as a Husky, only scoring 7 points and grabbing 3 rebounds.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning added 8 rebounds for the Huskies.

Washington was out performed in every category by game's end, as they only shot 39% from the field, 27% from beyond the arc, and hit on just 64% from the free throw line. Most of those numbers were much lower than that in the second half, when the Huskies went absolutely cold.

The game was sloppy, but Washington led most of the first half. An Abdul Gaddy to Darnell Gant lob and basket put the Huskies up 15-12. Gant was fouled but missed his free throw. Gaddy followed that with a driving hoop and a Justin Holiday three put the Huskies up by their largest margin at 20-14.

Shortly after, Pondexter drew his third foul on a poor decision that led to an offensive foul so he returned to the bench with 5:00 left in the first half that saw him score no points or grab any rebounds.

The half would end with the Huskies taking the lead back 29-27, as Holiday's 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals carried the Dawgs, who were also aided by 13 first half turnovers by the Mountaineers.

West Virginia woke up to begin the second half and went on a 9-4 run to jump ahead. The Mountaineers used a surprise up tempo transition game and offensive rebounds to do it.

When Pondexter was stripped of the ball and Thomas was forced to foul Ebanks, the ensuing free throws pushed the Mountaineers lead to five. After a Pondexter offering was swatted away by Wellington Smith, the Huskies again fouled at the other end. Ebanks' two free throws pushed the lead to seven and the game began to slip away. A careless rebound effort was corralled and turned into a lay in to open up a nine point advantage.

An Isaiah Thomas free throw finally stopped an 8-0 West Virginia run, but the damage had been done. After a Kevin Jones trey, a missed Amaning free throw and then a Butler banker in the lane, the Huskies were dragging as the game entered the last nine minutes. To that point, Washington had made just 4 of 18 field goals.

A Butler charge into Holiday was somehow called a block, which caused Lorenzo Romar to rip off his sport jacket in disgust, drawing a technical foul. Both Butler free throws went in as did his shot fouls, giving the Mountaineers a four point play.

When the deficit climbed to 13 points, the Huskies made a run. Two Venoy Overton free throws, a Thomas trey, and then a Pondexter lay in cut the deficit to six. When Overton stole the ball, it looked as though the Huskies were about to make it a game, but he threw a pass behind Pondexter that led to a turnover which the Mountaineers converted to an easy basket. Two more Overton turnovers – he had six for the game - led to five straight points by West Virginia and the threat was over. The Mountaineers continued to hammer the Dawgs on the boards throughout the second half.

In the last four minutes, a Holiday steal and jam cut the lead to 10 but four straight turnovers, one each by Thomas, Turner, Gaddy, and Bryan-Amaning prevented any Husky run. Fittingly, Washington finally got a shot off without turning the ball over – an airball by Pondexter from three point range.

West Virginia was led by the 18 points of Kevin Jones, who hit on 3 of 4 from the three-point line. Butler added 14 and Ebanks had 12, but the real damage was done on the boards. Four starters for the Mountaineers had seven rebounds each. For the game, West Virginia held a 40-26 edge in that department, and an 18-9 advantage on the offensive glass. Those stats were enough to overcome 23 turnovers.

Washington had 22 turnovers as well as they struggled mightily against the long arms and zone defense. This was a game that Washington would've won had they played the way they did against New Mexico. West Virginia was clumsy with the ball and not very quick, but the Huskies could not make them pay, and ultimately paid for it.

Although the Huskies ended the season with an effort that was not their best, they still finished winning 9 of their last 10 games, which should make Husky fans feel good about next season.

And a huge thank you to Quincy Pondexter, who represented the UW with class and dignity in his four years in Seattle. You will be missed. Top Stories