SEATTLE (AP)—After getting embarrassed for the first time this season, Washington got defensive—just in time for one of its biggest early season home tests in years.
Justin Dentmon scored 18 points and had a career-high nine rebounds, Spencer Hawes had 16 points and five blocked shots and No. 17 Washington stifled Portland State throughout in a 105-73 victory Saturday night.
Hawes’ fellow freshman Quincy Pondexter added 16 points—his team-leading scoring average coming in—and Ryan Appleby had 15. The young Huskies (8-1) responded from a 20-point humbling at No. 16 Gonzaga last weekend by restoring some confidence before 12th-ranked LSU arrives Wednesday night.
They led by as many as 38 in a runaway second half, which resembled a varsity-junior varsity scrimmage.
“Tonight is what we wanted to see in our previous eight games,” Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said of his team of eight freshmen and sophomores.
“We are not near where we need to be—but this week we made progress. Our defensive effort was the best it’s been all year.”
Washington set season highs in points and victory margin in its 25th consecutive nonconference home win, dating to a 2003 loss to Gonzaga.
When asked if this effort of forcing 19 turnovers and basically manhandling an opponent was at the level Washington needs against LSU, Dentmon said, “Most definitely.”
“We focused on defending their big men tonight, because they shoot a good percentage,” he said. “I think that’s what we are going to try to do against LSU, because they’ve got good bigs, too.”
Portland State (7-4) was anything but big, or good. The harried Vikings won at Arizona State earlier this season but led just twice on Saturday—2-0 and 5-3.
When asked for positives for his team in its biggest loss since a 116-68 rout at Oregon last month, coach Ken Bone said, “Nobody was injured.”
Seattle-area native Ryan Sommer led the Vikings with 14 points and “played his heart out,” according to Bone, a former Washington assistant.
Scott Morrison, the Vikings’ leading scorer coming in at 15 points per game, scored just seven. Second-leading scorer Juma Kamara was 4-for-16 shooting and had 11 points.
The Huskies spent the time between Saturday and last weekend’s 97-77 loss at Gonzaga stressing the need for more intense defense. That’s because Final Four-entrant LSU is coming and the Pac-10 season begins in two weeks with a trip to No. 1 UCLA.
Presto! Portland State missed 18 of its first 24 shots and shot just 36 percent for the game. Washington’s man-to-man defense continually pushed the Vikings’ offense farther away from the basket.
When Portland State did get inside, Hawes was there. The center whom coaches said had been drifting too far outside previously either blocked or repeatedly altered shots.
“If we can play this level of defense, we will have some success this season,” Romar said. “The issue is, are we going to do it?”
The game was essentially over when Washington took an immediate, 10-point lead six minutes in, on Hawes’ dunk after a drive down the middle of the lane. The 7-foot center wowed the quiet, less-than-capacity crowd—and the Vikings— by dribbling from midcourt on a fast break before his slam.
Hawes was 7-for-8 from the field, the third time this season he has shot over 80 percent.
“I was feeling it. Everything was going in,” Hawes said.
The lead grew to 35-16 lead eight minutes later, following a finger-roll lay up and deep jump shot by Pondexter. He punctuated his jumper by punching the air, the only raw emotion of an otherwise methodical first half.
It ended with Washington ahead 48-35 only because Portland State’s Deonte Huff threw in a rushed shot from near halfcourt and off the glass at the halftime buzzer. Huff did not start as usual because he was late for a team meeting Friday morning.
The Vikings never got closer. They went 2-for-10 to begin the second half. Appleby’s steal and layup and then a deep 3-pointer, plus a bank shot in from Hawes, ended a 10-0 run and gave Washington a 63-39 lead with 14 minutes to go.
And it got much worse from there.
Washington’s only negative was starter Adrian Oliver’s mild concussion. But Romar said the freshman guard should be OK following a day off Sunday.