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January 15, 2010

Defense sparks Dawgs in big win

The Huskies (11-5, 2-3) defeated the Stanford Cardinal (8-8, 2-2), 94-61, on Thursday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

The least you should know:

The Huskies led wire-to-wire, building a 22-6 lead in the first 11 minutes and never looking back.

Justin Holiday earned his first career start and finished with six points and seven rebounds, but earned high praise from teammates and Coach Romar for his stellar defensive play, which included three steals and a block.

Quincy Pondexter found his offensive game again, finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and shot 12-16 from the field.

The narrative:

Due to reasons Coach Lorenzo Romar described as "academic technicalities," Justin Holiday watched both games last week from home in Washington, hundreds of miles from where his team was twice soundly defeated by Pac-10 teams picked to finish far below the Huskies in the standings.

Thursday night at home against Stanford, Holiday started for the first time in his Husky career, sparking the team to a 94-61 victory with his defensive play. The rest of the team followed suit with a defensive effort that resulted in 20 Cardinal turnovers.

"Justin Holiday was the catalyst to this win," Romar said. "The things that he does best are the things that we were lacking."

Holiday, who will start again Saturday against Cal, held Player-of-the-Year candidate Landry Fields to 17 points, five below his average.

The Huskies started fast, building a 13-6 lead in the game's opening five minutes, and extending the lead to 41-22 by halftime.

After enduring a scoring slump during the recent three-game slide, senior leader Quincy Pondexter had a very strong game finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks.

"We looked into ourselves and said 'no more,'" Pondexter said of the team's effort tonight. "We dug ourselves a pretty big hole and we know we have to keep climbing out. We have to steadily, gradually climb out of it."

Isaiah Thomas[db], the Huskies other leading scorer, finished with 15 points, 7 assists and two steals.

[db]Venoy Overton finished with nine points and a career-high eight assists.

While the Huskies can finally put the three-game losing streak behind them, they'll be faced with the daunting challenge on playing a Cal team on Saturday that defeated the Dawgs twice last season and was picked to win the conference this year.

"We're not in a position to make a broad prediction how we're gonna be, or where we're gonna finish," Romar said. "We have to climb out of this hole, and tonight we took a big step climbing out of it."

Analysis and Observations:

It got closer tonight to that magical yin/yang combo we should get out of our differently styled point guards. Venoy Overton pushed the tempo tonight (although I still say his defense isn't where it was last season), and Abdul Gaddy is starting to get efficient with that little push shot in the lane. He shot 5-6, and scored 10 points.

Husky of the Game: Justin Holiday. Thrilled to see him in the starting lineup.

Welcome back, Quincy! We're going to be tough to beat when Pondexter is this aggressive on offense, and on the boards.

Scott Suggs hit three three-pointers in a two-and-a-half minute stretch in the second half. Elston Turner shot 1-9 tonight. But, in last week's games against the Arizona schools, Turner was the better player. I've got to think one of these guys is going to pull away and get most of the other's minutes at some point soon.

Darnell Gant had a great turnaround jumper in the lane in the first half -- just great enough to make you wonder whether he's got some post moves we haven't seen yet.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning looked a little better tonight, particularly on one monster jam. He finished with six points and six boards. Given the fact that Tyreese Breshers can't seem to stay out of foul trouble, MBA's the best we've got in the post, so let's appreciate the rebounding, and the fact that he shot 3-5 tonight.

Can they conjure up this level of effort on Saturday morning against Cal? It's going to take a performance like tonight's to beat the Bears, who are deeper and all-around better than Stanford.


Josh Anderson is the publisher of Montlake Madness, a 100 percent free fan site dedicated to University of Washington basketball. UDUBsports.com will be teaming up with Josh for the basketball season to provide even more comprehensive coverage of all the action!



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