Husky men's basketball sluggish early, but still win
It was a game that included a few glaring flaws (a sluggish start, two dozen turnovers) and one semi-comic blaring flaw — a horn on...
Special to The Seattle Times
It was a game that included a few glaring flaws (a sluggish start, two dozen turnovers) and one semi-comic blaring flaw — a horn on the overhead scoreboard that became stuck in the on position with four minutes left to play.
After a few minutes passed and referees forged a mutual agreement between the two coaches, the game continued with the horn at full drone — an appropriate finish for a game where the youthful, 17th-ranked Huskies displayed a variety of strengths and weaknesses in an 83-74 win over Sacramento State in front of 9,428 Sunday at Edmundson Pavilion.
"That [the stuck horn] happened a lot at my high school," said 6-foot-6 freshman forward Quincy Pondexter, whose team-high 22 points, nine rebounds and two three-pointers (on two attempts) helped lead Washington (4-0). "I got used to it."
Coach Lorenzo Romar does not want his players getting used to starting slowly or committing as many turnovers (24) as they did against a smaller but energetic Sacramento State (2-3).
"Forgive me for stating the obvious," said Romar, whose team trailed by 13 points midway through the first half, "but that was not a pretty win."
The animated Hornets scored 9 of their first 12 points off UW turnovers and outrebounded the taller Huskies during the opening 10 minutes as they opened a 29-16 lead.
"For the first 10 minutes, they were clearly the aggressors, and their quickness caught us off-guard," Romar said. "They were quicker to the ball than we were."
Pondexter pointed to a steal by 7-foot freshman Spencer Hawes with 9:22 left that led to a breakaway basket by Justin Dentmon (on a slick feed by Ryan Appleby) as UW's wake-up call. "That just carried us throughout the whole game," said Pondexter, who sank a three-pointer on UW's next trip down the court.
"That's when we decided to step up and play defense," said Jon Brockman, who scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and had nine rebounds. "We all know that that's what starts our offense, what gets us out on the break.
"We have to show up at the beginning of a game and the first second of a game be in defensive mode. We can't wait 10 minutes. Coach told us if we were in Oregon for this game, we would have been down 30 at half."
The Huskies closed out the final 10 minutes of the first half on a 32-9 run, then opened the second half with six straight points to lead 54-38, capped by a coast-to-coast drive by Brockman punctuated by a crowd-rousing dunk. Sacramento State never pulled closer than 12 points until the game's final horn-embellished minute.
Pondexter hit 6 of 11 shots from the field, sank 8 of 11 attempts at the free-throw line and had just one of UW's 24 turnovers in his 25 minutes. Romar was asked to compare him to a young Brandon Roy, who was an All-American last year as a senior.
"I think he understands his strengths," Romar said. "Brandon was really good at that. It's no coincidence that he went to the line  times. Guys who stand around on the perimeter and shoot threes a lot don't get to the line. Rarely do you see a good rebounder who doesn't get fouled, either."
Hawes finished with 14 points, hitting all seven shots from the field. He also blocked six shots.
Romar said turnovers (UW has averaged 22 in its first four games) are a "big-picture concern."
"Yes, we're 4-0, but at the same time it hasn't necessarily been smooth sailing," he said. "We just have to smooth it out. We'll do that."
Attendance: 9,428. Officials: Dick Cartmell, Deron White, Tom Spitznagel. Technical fouls: Sacramento State-None. Washington-None.
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