If you want to use your opening game to see how your team reacts to a variety of circumstances, the Washington Huskies got it tonight. (Here's our game story.)
Washington struggled early, get separation with an 11-0 first-half run, seemed on the verge of a rout in the the second half as the lead peaked at 18, and then had to hold off a Wright State charge down the stretch.
When it was over, Washington had its season-opening win, 74-69.
“We kind of let down,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We got up (by 18), and 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.”
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Isaiah Thomas led the way with a career-high 30 points including 14 from the free throw line.
“I’ve been a scorer my whole life, so there’s nothing too new,” Thomas said. “Coach told me day in and day out ‘We’re going to lean on you to score a little bit more;’ so I’m just doing what my team needs me to do.”
But tonight it was a long way down to UW’s No. 2 scorer: senior Quincy Pondexter with 12 points.
"Me scoring 30 points probably wouldn’t be great every game," Thomas said. "Every now and then. But we’ve got to find somebody somebody to lean on. Like coach said, tomorrow’s going to be somebody else’s day and the next day is going to be a new guy’s day."
In his college debut, freshman Abdul Gaddy of Tacoma had five points, one rebound, one assist and a steal. Senior guard Todd Brown led Wright State with 21 points -- 12 of those in the second half. The Raiders matched Washington with 29 rebounds, and they outshot UW from the floor 49 percent to 42.3 percent.
It all played out before a crowd of 8,239 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The Athletes in Action Classic continues at 4:30 p.m. Saturday when Wright State meets Portland State. Washington returns to action at 7 p.m. against Belmont, which beat PSU, 74-67, in the Friday opener.
“I watched some of it,” Pondexter said. “I think Belmont, as well as Portland State, they’re very disciplined teams. It’s going to be another game like (Friday). I know we’re going to have to come out and play our hardest to get another win.”
2:32 left: Washington's lead, which peaked at 18, is down to 64-58 with 2:32 left.
Second half: Has begun.
Halftime: Huskies lead, 40-28. Most of the damage was done on an 11-0 run midway through the half. Until then, the Raiders had hung close with points after offensive rebounds ... in a way that didn't happen much in the Brockman era.
At the half, the teams are even at 16 rebounds each. But the Huskies' quickness is gaining them possessions: eight steals to one.
Isaiah Thomas leading the way with 18 points. (That his career high for points in a first half, although he scored 18 two times in the second half of games last season.)
Also interesting: Nine minutes for Scott Suggs, who is 3-for-3 from the floor.
Tipoff: No surprises in UW lineup: Overton, Thomas, MBA, Pondexter and Gant.
Here we go. The season starts at No. 14. Where will it end?
Pregame: Game one just ended with a victory by Belmont (post below).
Now the spotlight shifts to Game Two, as the Huskies will open their season against Wright State. (Which had just taken to court to the modest boos of what remains a small crowd.)
Tipoff is 7 p.m. Game will be shown on FSN.
I'll keep the blog open all evening for pregame news, lineups, in-game updates and postgame notes and quotes. As always, your comments are valued.