UW men overpower Eastern Washington, 98-72
Venoy Overton ignited a surge that began late in the first half as Washington pulled away to beat Eastern Washington and improve to 2-0 this season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW vs. Virginia @ Maui Invitational, 9 p.m.
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Washington's season began last week, but forgive Justin Holiday for saying what everyone else has been thinking ever since the schedule was released.
"Now real basketball starts," said UW's senior co-captain after Tuesday's 98-72 win over Eastern Washington. "You can see where you are, and the rest of the nation. We're ranked. That's good and all, but it doesn't matter unless you come out and play.
"We'll see where we're at this tournament."
The tournament in question is next week's Maui Invitational, which features second-ranked Michigan State and No. 12 Kentucky.
The 17th-ranked Huskies fly to Hawaii on Saturday and their first game is Monday against Virginia (2-0), led by former Washington State coach Tony Bennett.
Maybe the Huskies had Maui on their minds Tuesday night at Edmundson Pavilion.
More likely, Washington needed the first 20 minutes to figure out a problematic 2-3 Eastern Washington zone defense that frustrated UW's shooters in the first half.
"They zoned us almost the entire game, which is great, great practice for us to get some reps against a zone," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "When I look down at the stat sheet, I can see that we had 28 assists and only 10 turnovers and shot almost 49 percent.
"I think we did a pretty good job against that zone."
The rout that the 8,897 in attendance anticipated took longer than expected, but after some tense early moments the Huskies went on to claim a convincing 26-point win for a 2-0 start to the season.
Washington wasn't as dominating as on last week's 118-64 dismantling of McNeese State, but for many Huskies it was more satisfying.
Holiday finished with a career-high 18 points, which led all scorers, and senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning feasted on the undersized Eagles for his sixth career double-double. He had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
And Venoy Overton, Washington's third senior, proved to be pivotal in the victory.
Leading 36-30 late in the first half, he took over in the final minutes before halftime. On one possession, Overton poked the ball away from EWU guard Cliff Colimon. The ball rolled to Geoffrey Allen and Overton knocked it away from him before flipping a no-look pass over his shoulder to Bryan-Amaning for a dunk.
On the next possession, Overton stripped Colimon and raced ahead for an uncontested layup that gave Washington a 40-30 lead.
"We knew we had to take care of the ball against their pressure," EWU coach Kirk Earlywine said. "That's what Overton does. He gave them a lift."
Romar tweaked the lineup at halftime, replacing forward Darnell Gant with Overton and the Huskies started the second half with a 20-5 run that turned a 42-34 lead at intermission into a 62-39 advantage.
"(Romar) said 20 (Tremayne Johnson) was killing us in the first half and he wanted me to get on him and slow him down," said Overton, who finished with nine points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals. "I guess (Romar) didn't want him to bring it up anymore, so that took away that problem fast."
With Overton starting in the second half, the Huskies scored nine unanswered points, and he capped the run with a layup that put UW ahead 51-34.
The Huskies stretched their lead to 29 with 7:28 remaining on a jumper from Holiday.
Eight Huskies scored at least eight points, including sophomore guard Abdul Gaddy, who played perhaps his finest college game. He connected on 5 of 6 shots and made three three-pointers for a career-high 13 points.
"I feel a lot more confident in myself," said Gaddy, who also had six assists, three rebounds and did not commit a turnover. "My teammates have a lot of confidence in me. I do feel like a different player."
The Huskies finally solved Eastern's zone in the second half and converted 48.7 percent of their shots, including 13 of 33 three-point attempts.
"It was a great game for us to springboard to go to Maui," Romar said.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|EASTERN WASHINGTON (0-2)|
Attendance: 8,897. Officials: Dick Cartmell, Deron White, Tom Wood. Technical fouls: Eastern Washington-None. Washington-Thomas, Isaiah.
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