Washington had no trouble piling up points in its first two games against overmatched opponents, but scoring figures to get much more difficult at the Maui Invitational.
The 13th-ranked Huskies expect their first real test when they face Virginia in the first round of this three-day tournament Monday night.
After defeating McNeese State 118-64 in its opener, Washington (2-0) beat Eastern Washington 98-72 on Tuesday. The Huskies got off to a bit of a sluggish start against the Eagles, but opened the second half on a 20-5 run to build a 23-point lead and put the game out of reach.
“It was a great game for us to use as a springboard going to Maui,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
The eight-team field in the Hawaii tournament features three Top 25 teams, and the winner of this matchup - the first between the programs since Virginia’s 65-61 win in the only matchup in 1983 - will face No. 8 Kentucky or Oklahoma.
Although the competition is about to get significantly tougher, Romar’s team should feel confident about its play on offense going into the tournament.
The Huskies’ 216 points in their first two games are the second most in consecutive games in school history. Senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning is leading the way with an average of 21.0 points on 61.5 percent shooting, and five other Huskies are averaging in double figures.
The 6-foot-9 Bryan-Amaning, who also averages a team-best 11.5 rebounds, has gone up against smaller opponents in the first two games and is expected to be challenged a bit more by Virginia’s Mike Scott. The 6-8 Scott is averaging team highs of 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Cavaliers (2-1).
Although Bryan-Amaning is getting most of his points close to the basket, Washington hasn’t been shy about hoisting up long-range shots.
After attempting 30 3-pointers in the opener, the Huskies put up 33 shots from beyond the arc against Eastern Washington - one shy of the school record. Washington has connected on 39.7 percent of its 3s, and the turn to the perimeter is a bit of a surprise for the Huskies, who didn’t attempt more than 23 shots from 3-point range in their 36 games last season.
Virginia was hurt defensively by 3-point shooting in a 81-60 loss to Stanford, as the Cardinal went 13 of 23 from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers, who opened the season with convincing wins over William and Mary and South Carolina Upstate, also turned the ball over 18 times.
“It’s the first time they’ve been on the road and you saw some fumble fingers and some travels and some rushed shots,” coach Tony Bennett said. “I think we were a little uneasy at times, but there’s only one way to get better at that.”
Virginia will have plenty of opportunities to improve away from home. The Cavaliers opened a six-game road stretch against Stanford, their longest since 1991-92, and don’t play in Charlottesville again until Dec. 7.