In his third season at Washington, and after 67 career appearances, forward Justin Holiday got his first career start Thursday.
He made the most of it.
Holiday’s energy on both ends of the court boosted the recently slow-starting Huskies to a big early lead, and they never looked back on their way to a 94-61 win at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
It was Washington’s most one-sided win over Stanford, topping a 24-point victory in 1961. And it was UW’s first win by 20 or more points over the Cardinal since 1985.
Within just the first five minutes, Holiday forced Stanford leading scorer Landry Fields into a charge, assisted the Huskies’ first goal, hit a jumper after a kick-out from Isaiah Thomas, blocked a Fields shot, and finished an ally-oop from Venoy Overton.
Just like that, the Huskies were roaring away from the Cardinal at warp speed, reaching a 22-6 lead near the middle of the first half after holding Stanford scoreless for eight minutes.
Holiday’s final numbers – six points, seven rebounds -- only hint at his value to his team on this evening.
Quincy Pondexter led Washington (11-5 overall, 2-3 Pac-10) with 27 points and 10 rebounds. The Huskies also got solid performances from the Tacoma guard twosome of Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy with 15 and 10 points respectively. Matthew Bryan-Amaning contributed six rebounds. Scott Suggs came on late to drill three 3-pointers.
Fields led Stanford (8-8, 2-2) with 17 points, five below his average. Jeremey Green, who exploded for 30 points last weekend against UCLA, was shut over the first 17 minutes and finished with seven – with Thomas handling primary defensive responsibility.
Washington concludes the homestand with an 11:30 a.m. Saturday game against California.
7:56/2nd Huskies up, 77-40. Assuming no major reversal, this will be UW's biggest win ever against Stanford, beating the previous-high 24-points in 1961. It also will be UW's first win by 20 or more against the Cardinal since 1985.
19:00/2nd Early indication that the Huskies aren't planning to coast with their lead this half either. Three offensive rebounds on their first possession leading to a Quincy Pondexter jumper.
Halftime: Dawgs up, 41-22, and Justin Holiday's all-over-the-court work ethic spread throughout the team for what was UW's best half of the season.
The Tacoma Two are leading the way: Isaiah Thomas with 11, and a clearly more confident Abdul Gaddy with 10. But there's nice balance: Pondexter seven, Holiday six plus five rebounds. And Bryan-Amaning and Q-Pon have five rebounds, too.
Washington has reclaimed the boards, 22-14.
Landry Fields leads Stanford with 13 points. But Jeremy Green, who had 30 last time out against UCLA, had one basket -- while mostly being guarded by Thomas.
And a clear indication of how this is happening came in the final minute, when there was a loose ball under the Stanford basket. All five Huskies dived onto the court, while three Stanford players stood and watched.
11:36/1st: The Huskies' recent trend of slow starts came to a close here tonight, as Justin Holiday just lit the fuse on these guys, who are now up 17-6. Holiday had been a defensive game-changer and has added four points by knocking down the two shots he's taken.
And the crowd is into it, as MBA has just thrown down a dunk after an Overton steal.
(And now, 25-10, with 7:39 left in the half. Stanford, amazingly, has nine shots and 11 turnovers.)
Lineup: It seemed to reason that coach Lorenzo Romar would try to do something to shake up the declining status quo of his declining basketball team. One change is this: defensive-oriented junior forward Justin Holiday moving into the starting lineup in place of Darnell Gant.
The other recent starters remain: Thomas, Gaddy, Pondexter and Breshers.
Pregame: Huskies and Cardinal have just returned to their locker rooms for final preparations before what is a huge game for the Huskies. A win doesn't solve the troubles that have arisen over the past 10 days, but a loss would be little short of devastation.
It will be interesting to see if coach Lorenzo Romar tweaks his lineup or rotation today.
I'll pop back in when the lineup is announced, then file updates as the game moves along, and then wrap up with postgame notes and quotes. Comments encouraged.