Sports

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Pondexter leads Huskies to win

Over the past couple of seasons, there was a word for games when the Washington Huskies made a lot of errors and weren't bailed out by Jon Brockman: losses.

On Saturday, the Huskies committed 19 turnovers, missed half their free throws, and got below-average points and rebounds from Brockman.

And still, Washington not only won, but won big: 72-54 over Pacific before a crowd of 7,527 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

"I think we're better defensively; I think we have more offensive weapons," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "(In past seasons) if we weren't making our free throws or turning the ball over, I think we didn't have the kind of offensive output to compensate for that kind of deficiency. But I think (now) we have more guys to step up."

First among them was junior forward Quincy Pondexter, who provided 16 points and 12 rebounds - both game highs.

"I want us to win," Pondexter said. "I have no goals for myself, I just want us to win. I was just trying to figure out what way was best for me to help this team win and figure out my role."

Against Pacific, that role was to make up for the points and rebounds that went away as the Tigers doubled Brockman at every turn, limiting him to 13 points and six rebounds. Pondexter took advantage of that by providing a very Brockman-like double-double of his own.

He got help from senior Justin Dentmon, who had 15 points; freshman Isaiah Thomas, who had nine points, six rebounds and four assists; and Darnell Gant and Mathew Bryan-Amaning, who provided solid minutes along the front line.

The Huskies grabbed 46 rebounds to Pacific's 20 and forced the Tigers into committing 19 turnovers.

"I think our guys have learned to play off of Jon, and Jon has learned to feed the other guys when other teams are trying to take him away," Romar said. "It has happened quite often, and I think our guys are comfortable that when Jon throws that ball out of there we know how to make that play, how to make a team pay for trying to take him out of the game."

Pacific (2-2) had opened its season with an 11-point loss at California, but had bounced back with consecutive wins over UC-San Diego and Nevada. However, that streak ended without much drama Saturday.

Washington (3-3) played with the lead from the moment Thomas drilled a 3-pointer on the opening possession. The lead stayed in double-digits the entire second half.

"We had one good stretch in the second half where we got it to 10, and that is where you're either going to close the gap or not," Pacific coach Bob Thomason said. "And they did an unbelievable job of rebounding the ball then. We couldn't really get a rebound the rest of the game. They pressed us really hard, and they played really tough, and they deserved to win."

The Tigers were led by a couple of Western Washington players returning home. Terrell Smith, a sophomore from Federal Way High School, led his team with 12 points; Chad Troyer, a senior from Seattle Prep, added 10.

"It was great having Chad and Terrell come back home," Thomason said. "You always try to do that for your seniors. Then, obviously, it was good for us to get tested. Washington is a great rebounding team, and obviously we're not."

The Huskies evened their record after starting the week with back-to-back losses to Kansas and Florida in the CBE Classic in Kansas City.

They will return to action Thursday, hosting Oklahoma State in this season's Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.

"I think we're playing as well as we've played in our six games," Romar said. "In terms of playing right, the arrow is pointing up, I would say. We're still a long way from where we need to be. We've got about a month to get it right (before conference play), but I think we made progress."

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