Isaiah Thomas Goes For 30 as Dawgs Beat Wright State in Opener
The University of Washington men’s basketball team started their season off with a win against Wright State University 74-69. Sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas led the way with a spectacular performance. Thomas had a career high 30 points and shot 50% (7-14) from the field and an all important 14-18 from the free throw line. With that being said, Wright State University fought tough to test the mind frame of the Dawgs in the second half of the game.
The Huskies came out strong in the first half scoring at will against Wright State. The Raiders couldn’t get in rhythm due to the heavy defense the Dawgs pressured them with. Thomas slashed his way through defenders and showed displays of the shooter everyone has heard about in the past.
The starting line up consisted of Venoy Overton, Isaiah, Quincy Pondexter, Darnell Gant, and Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Pondexter and Thomas were the only scorers in double digits. Pondexter finished with 12 points 9 rebounds. The rest of the team was very mediocre from the field. The Huskies as a whole shot 42% from the field, but what might have saved them was their 72% from the free throw line, which continues on their improved performance from the stripe last season, over a very dismal year in 2007-2008
Freshman guard Abdul Gaddy showed signs of how good he can be with his passing skills but will need to go through battle to get to where he needs to be to succeed on the college level. Gaddy needs to step up the speed in his game to fit Romar’s system and to be a little bit tougher on the court. Some passes he threw were so good that his teammates didn’t know where they were coming from. Abdul finished with 5 points, 2 turnovers and one assist in 16 minutes of work.
Gant and Bryan-Amaning combined for 5 rebounds and 7 points. This was certainly a sign of how much Jon Brockman will be missed and the challenge that the big men have in front of them. Tyreese Breshers played pretty well, but in eight very limited minutes, finishing the game with 2 rebounds and 3 points. One bright side of this story for Washington, pleasantly surprising in fact, was the play of Scott Suggs who had his best game as a Husky with 9 points.
The low post game will be a question for the Huskies as well as their shooting from the guards. If neither of those facets of the game is improved they will have a rough year, given the current expectations and Top-15 ranking. The halftime score was 40-28 but all that changed in the second half for the Dawgs.
Wright State came out strong while the Huskies struggled in every aspect of their game. Senior Todd Brown led the Raiders with 21 points. The visitors had two other players in double digits. N’Gai Evans finished with 17 points and Cooper Land with 12. At around the 11 minute mark in the second half the Raiders switched over to a 2-3 zone.
The zone created fits for the Huskies who came out and looked lost at times in the second half but showed some will to hold off a comeback from the Raiders. Wright State was the complete opposite team that came out in the first half.
The Huskies got outscored 41-34 in the second half. With the zone being at full force the Dawgs couldn’t get anything going on the offense. As a team they forced horrible shots and couldn’t get anything in the post for the big men. Guard play was real bad as well in the second half.
“We kind of let down,” said Coach Lorenzo Romar. “We got up. That’s what preseason games are for. You learn from them. Hopefully, you can win and learn from those things. But when we get up 15-17, we’ve got to keep playing.”
Turnovers led to transition points and many three point baskets from Brown in the corner of the court. Wright State battled back to cut the lead down to less than ten points late in the game, but some key plays from Thomas and Pondexter kept the Huskies on top down the stretch. Quincy was complimentary of what he saw in the Raiders.
“We knew that they would never give up. They’re a veteran team; they’re a very good team.”
The Raiders gave the Huskies all their heart as the game closed out, but just couldn’t get over the hump. In order for the Dawgs to get back into last years form they will have to go through a learning curve. Rebounding, post play and guard play will be the key to success for another tournament run for the Huskies. Although it’s just one game, there was a lot to learn from this first game test.
The Huskies will play Saturday at 7 pm against Belmont for the 2nd game of the 3-day Athletes in Action tournament.
The Huskies only had 11 assists. This is a very disappointing stat, considering the presence of three such highly thought of and established guards as Thomas, Gaddy and Overton. The Dawgs had only 29 rebounds while Wright State had 29 as well. Not so great against a Pac-10 team, considering Washington’s style of play, let alone one from the Horizon league.
Huskies forced the Raiders to 19 turnovers but the Huskies had 12 of their own, often looking out of sorts. The key stat of the game may have been fouls and subsequent damage at the line. UW got the best of WSU there with only 19 personals to 27 and 27 free throws made to 15 for the visitors.