Washington exploded past Belmont tonight, 96-78, at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The victory was so complete that walk-on Brandon Sherrer made a late appearance. (Here's our game story.)
Quincy Pondexter led all scorers with 25 points, while Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas had 23 each -- matching a career-high for MBA. The Huskies shot .412 on 3-pointers, and they out-rebounded the Bruins -- no not those other Bruins, but still -- 48-24.
“We’re making progress,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We made progress on the boards. A number of people attacked the glass. We had a concerted effort to outrebound them.”
Bryan-Amaning said the Huskies went inside because Belmont was guarding the post 1-one-1. Meanwhile, Belmont coach Rick Byrd said he knew the risk, but he had no appealing alternative.
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“(Bryan-Amaning) made shots that we felt like we had to make him make – over us from 8 feet, half-hooks and that kind of stuff,” Byrd said. “But you know: Pick your poison. I mean, what are you going to do when all of a sudden Thomas is a doggone 3-point shooter? … And when he can do that, how the hay do you keep him from driving; because he may be as hard to guard driving the basketball as I’ve ever seen.”
Washington’s full control wobbled only briefly as Belmont worked back even about five minutes before halftime.
That’s when Tacoma freshman Clarence Trent made his college debut, and his infusion of energy coincided with an 11-0 run that put Washington back in control.
“I think Clarence had something to do with it,” Romar said. “… As we looked out on the floor we still were not rebounding the ball well enough, and we knew Clarence is going to make something happen one way or another. He plays with energy, and he produces.”
Washington’s lead peaked at 23 points, about seven minutes from the end.
“We’re a very young basketball team that plays in the Atlantic Sun, playing a really, really good team in the Pac-10, a team that’s picked to be in the top 15 in the country,” Byrd said. “Although when it got to 34-34 I was hoping for better than it ended up, but … Washington’s a really, really good team that presents a lot of problems for anybody at any level, but particularly a team like us.”
The Athletes in Action Classic concludes Sunday with Wright State-Belmont at 4:30, and Portland State (0-2) vs. Washington at 7.
2nd/7:55 Washington is putting the Bruins away, 80-59. Matthew Bryan-Amaning has 23 points, matching his career high.
Halftime: Coincidence or not, the Huskies went on an 11-0 run when Trent was sent in, and they now hold a 49-39 lead at halftime.
Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas each have 14 points.
Trent makes debut: Belmont pulled even, 34-34, at the 4:37 of the first half. At the same time, Romar sent in freshman Clarence Trent for the first time this season.
Breshers back on bench: Looks like maybe finger just popped out of socket and got yanked back in. We'll see.
Belmont heating up from outside: UW 24-22.
1st/11:54 Huskies off to a fast start, 22-14, and showing some strength where they did not last night: outside and on post.
However, Matthew Breshers just went to the locker room after apparently injuring hand or finger on a block.
Tipoff: Romar going with the same lineup: Overton, Thomas, MBA, Pondexter and Gant.
Here we go.
Pregame: The second day of the Athletes in Action Classic has begun at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
In the first game, Wright State beat Portland State, 75-70. The Raiders had a double-digit lead much of the way, but PSU charged late. Former Husky Phil Nelson had six points for the Vikings.
Now Belmont and Washington -- who each won last night -- are up next at 7 p.m. These Bruins have won 20-plus games in five of the last six seasons and made the NCAA tournament in 2006, '07 and '08. That last appearance ended with a 71-70 loss to Duke.
The game isn't televised. I'll pop in with updates as I can, and with notes and quotes after.
The AiA Classic concludes Sunday with Belmont and Wright State meeting at 4:30 p.m., and Portland State playing Washington at 7 p.m.