Though Washington has one of the nation’s top players in sophomore Isaiah Thomas, a consistently balanced offense could be a key to its success this season.
The 14th-ranked Huskies try for a third straight victory when they face Portland State on Sunday night in the finale of the round-robin Athletes in Action Classic at Bank of America Arena.
After the 5-foot-8 Thomas scored 30 points in a 74-69 season-opening win over Wright State on Friday, the star guard received a little more support in Washington’s 96-78 victory over Belmont on Saturday.
Quincy Pondexter matched a career high with 25 points, while junior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Thomas each added 23 for the Huskies.
While Thomas, the Pac-10 freshman of the year last season, is the team’s go-to option, consistent scoring from Pondexter and Bryan-Amaning could help make the Huskies’ defense of their conference title a little easier.
Pondexter averaged 12.1 points as a junior last season and already is scoring at 18.5 a game.
More nights like Saturday for the 6-9 Bryan-Amaning, could help Washington adjust a little smoother to life without Jon Brockman, now in the NBA.
“He’s been working his tail off in the weight room, the gym to get better to help fill Jon Brockman’s shoes and not have it be one of those things where people look at it as being a weakness of our team,” Pondexter said of Bryan-Amaning, who averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 32 games mostly off the bench last season. “He’s a tremendous talent.
Bryan-Amaning, who hails from England, went 8 of 12 from the field Saturday to match a career high point total set in the Huskies’ narrow win over Portland State last season.
Though Washington is 9-0 all-time against Portland State (0-2), the Huskies almost blew a 17-point lead as the Vikings closed the game with a 22-9 run, but fell 84-83 at Seattle on Dec. 14. Pondexter had 21 points with eight rebounds and Thomas added 16.
The Vikings will again look for their first win of the season following Saturday’s 75-70 loss to Wright State.
After scoring nine points in a 74-67 defeat against Belmont on Friday, junior guard Melvin Jones had 23 for Portland State, which trimmed a 15-point halftime deficit down to five with 7 minutes left, but could not get closer in its most recent game.
“I told these guys to continue to be positive,” first-year Vikings coach Tyler Geving told the school’s official Web site. “I know you can get down with a couple losses, but Belmont and Wright State are good mid-major type programs.
“We’re playing good basketball teams and its going to pay off dividends for us.”
Senior Dominic Waters - who had 19 points against the Huskies last season and 17 versus Belmont - was held to 11 on 3 of 9 shooting Saturday for the Vikings, who return five letterwinners from a squad that is coming off its second straight NCAA tournament appearance.