Weekend Wrap

Feb 1, 2010, 3:56 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

Coug’s Fast Start Falls Flat in Seattle

(This WSU/UW game Story from a Cougar perspective courtesy of Heath Harshman)

If there were ever a game that summed up the 2009-10 version of the WSU men’s basketball team, it was Saturday’s at Washington. All the things that have come to characterize Ken Bone’s squad this season, good and bad, reared their head at some point during those forty minutes.

Unfortunately for Cougar nation, the bad far outweighed the good.

The Cougs showed glimpses of how well they can play, but not enough of them to overcome a talented Husky team that improved to 14-1 at home with the 92-64 victory. The result of the game puts WSU and UW even at 14-7 on the year and tied in the Pac-10 as well at 4-5.

Coach Bone kept to his word from his weekly press conference, starting out in a 2-3 match-up zone and utilizing it for the majority of the game. It worked great for the majority of the first half as the Huskies shot just 12-36 (33.3%) from the field and 2-10 from three-point range. Only the steady scoring of senior Quincy Pondexter, the team’s leading scorer, kept UW in it, scoring 19 of his game high 29 in the first half.

Pondexter’s 29 were his most since the Huskies December third loss to Texas Tech, where he put up 31. He also grabbed 12 rebounds, five of which were offensive, and went 9-10 from the free throw line. The senior stepped up into the limelight and paced his squad to victory. His efficient and steady play was one of, if not the, reason that the Huskies hung around and kept it close throughout the first half and dominated in the second.

Venoy Overton came off the bench for UW and had a great game in almost every fashion. Overton had six points on a poor 2-10 shooting, but the junior guard from Seattle rounded out his performance with six rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers.

On the other side, WSU leading scorer sophomore Klay Thompson struggled to find his shot throughout the game, going just 2-15 and not making his first bucket until there were 49 seconds remaining in the first half. His 20+ point per game average was sorely missed by the Cougs, especially in the second half.

Thompson’s seven points Saturday tied his season low against Oregon State earlier this season. Thompson didn’t start either, as he was a few minutes late for the bus Friday, his replacement in the starting lineup, Freshman Xavier Thames, took full advantage to impress Coach Bone.

Thames played a season high 26 minutes and went 6-8 from the floor scoring a career high 15 points, almost three times his season average. Thames also went 2-3 from beyond the arc; something that not many people could’ve expected after Thames had made just four of 17 from three-point range all season.

Lone Coug senior Nikola Koprivica also stepped up, scoring 13 points, all of which coming in the first half, on 4-8 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds. Koprivica’s three point shooting rallied WSU in the opening minutes, as he made back-to-back threes to extend the Coug’s lead to 14-3, but it was all downhill from there for WSU.

An old fashioned three-point play by Husky forward Justin Holiday gave UW a 43-41 lead with 16:50 left in the game, they never looked back. Key for the Dawgs in the second half was the stellar play of sophomore stud Isaiah Thomas.

Wazzu held Thomas, who was out sick for last Tuesday’s game against Seattle, to just two points on 0-3 shooting in the first half. But Thomas figured out the Cougs 2-3 zone early in the second and was one of many Dawgs who took advantage of WSU’s weak penetration defense. Thomas went off for 17 points in the second half and led UW to a 22-4 run to open the second half.

Along with Thompson struggling with his shot for the second half, freshman Reggie Moore struggled with his shot, going 0-6 in the final 20 minutes. Combined in the second half Thompson and Moore, the Cougs only two players averaging double-digit points per game, shot a hideous 1-11. Moore also committed eight turnovers in the game.

But, the entire WSU team deserves “credit” for the performance in the second half. After hitting six threes and shooting 44.4% in the first half, Wazzu shot 22.9% in the second half and missing all 10 three point attempts.

The shot that really epitomized the game for the Cougs was with 20 seconds left as a deflated and discouraged DeAngelo Casto air-balled a free-throw. The last signal of defeat for the battered Coug team that was ready to put this performance behind them.

The results from the rest of the Pac-10 this weekend did nothing to clarify the muddied standings. Once again just three games separate first from last as Cal and Arizona lead the way at 6-3.

A weekend at home, their first in three weeks, against the Arizona schools for WSU coming up gives Coach Bone and his squad a chance to beat two of the four teams ahead of them in the standings. The Cougs are 9-2 at home this season and Beasley Coliseum will be ready to welcome their guys back after a tough weekend in Seattle.

Zags Finally Hit Road Snag at San Francisco

Gonzaga started their weekend off on the good foot by beating Santa Clara on the road 71-64.

‘Zaga’s veteran guards Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray led the way with 19 points as yet another WCC foe bit the dust after putting up a pretty good fight. The Broncos led by 15 with around 15 minutes to play, but once again the Zags, who certainly have the eye of the tiger in a season where most felt they would have to rebuild did it again.

Elias Harris, as usual, was a major factor with 16 points and 14 boards. GU was feeling pretty good about it’s #8 position in the ESPN poll, but then they finally ran out of gas against the San Francisco Dons on Saturday night in SF, CA losing in overtime 81-77.

Dior Lowhorn was the star for the Dons, as has usually been the case for them since he transferred back home after a couple of years in Lubbock TX where he played for Bobby Knight (and son) and Texas Tech. Dior hit a three to force overtime and really helped finish off the Zags with a couple more threes in the OT.

This time for GU Harris led the way with 21 points and 8 rebounds followed by Bouldin with 15 and 12 boards. Robert Sacre also pumped in 13 points. The Zags are now tied with St. Mary’s at 6-1 in WCC play and return home to face the 2nd place Portland Pilots in Spokane this Thursday night at 8PM (PST).

Seattle U Loses Close One at Home to Vandals

The Redhawks put up a good fight, but lost to a talented but thus far underachieving Idaho Vandal squad 87-85 Saturday night in Key Arena.

Chuck Garcia had a nice night leading all scorers with 23 points and staying active on the glass with 7 boards. Steffan Johnson of Kent, WA led the way for Idaho with 18 points and the former Pacific Tiger was impressive in running the show for the Vandals playing almost the whole way logging 36 minutes. He got a lot of help in making plays from a former WSU Cougar, Mac Hopson who had an eye popping 11 assists to go with his 9 points.

Hopson was also forced into 7 turnovers in what was a very sloppy game in which Idaho had 24 turnovers to 18 for Seattle U. It wasn’t dull though, as Coach Cameron Dollar’s team has rarely been this season. Chris Gweth came off the bench for 15 points, while Cervante Burrell scored 12, but also along with Garcia coughed up 5 TO’s. Aaron Broussard added 11 points and 8 boards. Basically the game came down to who shot the ball better, as Idaho shot lights out, especially in the 2nd half where they went 16 of 25 from the field.

Seattle U started off strong, showing little sign of being down after the embarrassing loss at Washington earlier in the week. Cameron felt that Idaho’s hot shooting had something to do with his team’s defensive performance when he talked to the Seattle Times Bob Condotta after the game.

“We’ve got to be able to get stops at crucial times, and we weren’t able to do that.”

Idaho shot 58% from the field to 42% for the Redhawks in the most telling stat. Now Seattle U faces an Eastern Washington team tonight at 7PM (PST) that features a number of local Puget Sound Area players including talented senior post Brandon Moore from Bethel High, Federal Way guard Jeffrey Forbes, Rainier Beach forward Abebe Demissie, Roosevelt High guard Glen Dean and P.J. Bolte from Franklin Pierce in Tacoma.

The Idaho Scout site did a nice photo gallery of the game.

Husky Huddle

Montlake Madness’ Josh Anderson made a good point about the solid year that Venoy Overton has been having, quietly improving his ability to make plays for others and establishing himself as a leader. I know that Josh is a big fan of Justin Holiday who is also showing marked improvement and growth and should along with Venoy help take the reins of senior leadership next year after the departure of Pondexter.

2011 UW guard prospect Tony Wroten had a feature article done about his recovery from a football injury in the Seattle Times. From the sounds of the quotes in the piece, Tony wants to play this year, but his dad Tony Sr. is not so hot on the idea stating, “If I had to go on record, I would say no”. Tony Sr. was a star on some pretty solid Husky Football teams in the early 80’s. Wroten Sr. caught a lot of passes as a Tight End from, the likes of Steve Pelluer, Tom Flick and Tim Cowan.

The article also speaks of the influence on Tony Jr. of Joyce Walker, his aunt, who is arguably the god-mother of women’s basketball in Seattle. She also feels that she doesn’t believe that Tony will play this season for Garfield and that, “He doesn’t have to”. Wroten certainly seems to be a guy that could write a new chapter in the Husky record books and in Seattle basketball lore with the influence of his dad and aunt and their continued commitment to his development.

Pac-10 Round Up

Cal started their Arizona trip this past weekend strong with a 78-70 win at ASU on Thursday.

Jamal Boykin scored a career high 25 points to lead the Bears to the win at Tempe, where he also led Cal on the boards with 10 rebounds. Jerome Randle also hit for 25, while Patrick Christopher kicked in 21 with 8 boards. Scout’s ASU site pointed to the reason for the home loss as one of defensive lapses by a Sun Devil team that has been as good in that area as anyone in the Pac-10, despite the loss of James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph to the NBA.

The article points to the loss of Seattle’s Jamelle McMillan as being critical to the team’s defensive strength. In watching Washington with and without Justin Holiday, I can see their point with McMillan as well. Having one player out that consistently does the job on the other teams top perimeter threat can make a huge difference.

The Sun Devils followed that disappointing effort with a solid 88-70 win over Stanford on Saturday.

Despite 22 points from Landry Fields and 20 from Jeremy Green Stanford could not stop Ty Abbott who had his way with the Cardinal for 29 points and a career high 12 boards. Freshman Trent Lockett, who has started in Jamelle’s absence, kicked in 17, while Rihards Kuksiks added a steady 14 points. Demetrius Walker also started for the Sun Devils as Coach Herb Sendek shook up the starting line-up in the wake of the Cal loss, but Derek Glasser came off the bench to play 35 minutes, score 12 points and more importantly log 10 assists.

The difference in the game for ASU was in the way they shot the ball at 56% for the game to 35% for Stanford. ASU also shared the ball better, which usually improves field goal percentage, beating the Cardinal in the assist column 23-16. ASU now travel to Pullman for a 7PM (PST) tip this Thursday.

The Sun Devils also picked up a key commitment from 2010 JC combo guard Brandon Dunson of Wabash Valley College in Indiana. He chose ASU over “California, Illinois, Oklahoma State, and UCLA”, according to Mid-State Hoops. They need help to replace the playmaking of Glasser.

Stanford also received a commit from yet another tall 2010 player and their 2nd Canadian recruit in the class in six-foot-eleven Stefan Nastic. Though Stefan comes from north of the border he is originally from Serbia where he played on the Serbian U18 National team. Nastic joins a 2010 Stanford class that is not only tall but has a distinct NW feel to it with small forward Josh Huestis from Great Falls MT six-foot-ten Canadian center Dwight Powell, small forward Anthony Brown, six-foot-ten center John Gage from Vashon WA and point guard Aaron Bright from Bellevue WA.

Stanford, who like Washington has yet to win a conference road game, will travel to UCLA this Thursday for a 7:30 PM (PST) tip-off.

‘Zona had a great weekend with a sweep of the bay area schools at home in Tucson. Derrick Williams led the ‘Cats to a 76-68 win over Stanford on Thursday with 16 of his 23 points in the second half.

Landry Fields had an incredible night in the loss with 31 points, with Jeremy Green not far behind with 25, but the rest of the Stanford team could only yield a meager 12 points. Arizona meanwhile got 15 from Kyle Fogg, 14 from Nice Wise and 24 points evenly spread around the rest of their crew. Only disappointing center Kyryl Natyazhko who had a complete goose egg for a stat line in 8 minutes did not contribute.

‘Zona followed that solid performance up with an even better one, as they beat Cal 76-72 to tie the Bears for 1st place in the Pac-10 on Sunday.

This time it was Nic Wise who was the star for the ‘Cats, though Williams who is making a strong case for not only freshman of the year in the Pac-10 but also All Pac-10 honors, was right there with 15 points and 11 boards. ‘Zona also got 10 points from Lamont “Momo” Jones and move on to the showdown at Washington this Thursday night at 7:30 PM (PST) on a 4 game winning streak.

Cal got a huge 27 point effort from Theo Robertson, a career high, but the other 3 senior stars Boykin, Christopher and Randle were kept well under control going a combined 11-38 from the field and 3-15 from three. The Bears now travel to USC for a 7:30 PM (PST) game on Thursday.

Nic Wise and the ‘Cats were both given strong mention by Andy Katz in his Weekly Watch column and have put themselves right in the conference title picture.

‘Zona was also mentioned in the brand new “Bubble Watch” feature on ESPN, but the commentators seemed a bit out of touch when they commented that, “Arizona plays at Washington and Washington State this week and can’t afford a loss to either opponent”. With the way that the Dawgs have played at home that seems a bit like they may not have seen any of those games.

The Huskies cannot afford to be overconfident, as ‘Zona is coming in red-hot and have shown that though they are young they can win conference games on the road.

OSU beat USC to start the weekend off right on Thursday night in Corvallis 51-45.

The Beavers broke a three game skid by beating the Trojans after coming back from a 10 point deficit in the 1st half. Calvin Haynes had 25 points, 16 in the 2nd half and Roeland Schaftenaar kicked in 10 in the defensive battle. Nikola Vucevic scored 12 and Leonard Washington came off the bench for 11 for the Trojans.

The Beavs couldn’t keep up the winning formula though against UCLA on Saturday when the Bruins zone took OSU out in another slow paced game 62-52.

Haynes once again led all scorers with 16 points, but the story of the game was written by Reeves Nelson of UCLA who bulled his way to 14 points on 7-8 from the floor and 12 boards. Nelson has been a very nice weapon for UCLA and is yet another freshman making a strong case for post season honors. UCLA has turned into a much better team since installing a zone defense which seems to slow the tempo and protect its thin and not so nimble core of wings and guards.

In a power game bigger players like senior Mike Roll six-foot-five PG Malcolm Lee, six-foot-eight freshman Tyler Honeycutt (who was also injured early) and six-foot-nine senior Nikola Dragovic seem a lot more effective than they did earlier in the year when the Bruins attempted to stay with teams in man defense. Senior post James Keefe got the start against OSU, but the freshman Nelson off the bench was far more effective.

Coach Ben Howland has done a very good job of getting the most out of this team that is very short on guards and quickness, though long on height. By winning road games like they did this weekend against the Beavers and also were able to do against a sleepy Cal team in the 1st weekend of Pac-10 play, the Bruins have worked their way into the top end of the league only trailing ‘Zona and the Bears by one game and holding 2nd place all to themselves.

With so many poor performances in their non-conference slate, it may be hard to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament, even if they are able to keep up this pace. We’ll know a lot after this weekend though as the Bears seek revenge for both that early loss and their last in Tucson. Cal meets UCLA at Pauley next Saturday at 1 PM (PST) and before that the Bruins will entertain Stanford at 7:30 PM (PST) this Thursday.

Oregon State now face Oregon in Corvallis at 3PM (PST) on this coming Saturday in a rematch of a game the Beavers won in the 2nd week of conference play in Eugene.

Oregon meanwhile righted its ship with the help of some pink uniforms that they wore to bring attention to the struggle to cure cancer. They beat UCLA 71-66 in overtime in another slow it down knock down drag out affair.

Tajuan Porter and Matt Humphrey, who had just come back from a two month absence for knee surgery this weekend, scored 15 points each. Humphrey was especially impressive hitting two gigantic threes in overtime to literally put the Ducks on his shoulders. One was an off the dribble deep three as the shot clock was running down that sank a dagger into a Bruin team that all weekend played hard and very easily (were it not for Matt) have swept on the road.

E.J. Singler was also huge off the bench for Oregon as he scored 6 points in the final 1:10 of overtime, including two free throws with 7 seconds remaining. The Bruins got strong performances from Dragovic, Roll and Honeycutt and were able to dictate the tempo for much of the game with their zone, but Malcolm Lee was really cold going 1-9 from the field and Nelson was strong with 11 points off the bench, but just not enough in the end.

The Ducks followed that close win with a very sound performance in another defensive struggle against USC on Saturday winning 62-52 in Eugene.

The game was won by a 15-2 run that was fueled by a technical foul on a USC team manager who promptly dismissed on the spot by Coach Kevin O’Neill.

Though that made up only one extra possession and two foul shots of that run, it seemed to mean a lot to O’Neill and other Trojans in post game interviews. This time for the deep Ducks it was two former JC team mates from Chippola FL that led the way as Jeremy Jacob scored 19 points and Malcolm Armstead 18.

For USC it was the guards that were most effective as Dwight Lewis led with 16 points and Mike Gerrity followed with 12 and 5 assists. Nikola Vucevic was once again very effective with 10 points and 14 boards. USC return home somewhat bloodied and embarrassed by their Oregon trip to face another team with issues in Cal on Thursday at 7:30 PM (PST).

Obama: Talks Hoops

I don’t remember a president who could talk hoops, but Barack Obama did this past weekend on the Duke Georgetown game in Washington D.C. on Saturday. He may have made a small political faux pas by telling Clark Kellogg that he was the best color man in college basketball, but I was impressed by the way the president broke down a Greg Monroe dribble drive to the hoop.

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