SEATTLE (AP)—Up by 46 points, Quincy Pondexter had every reason to simply let the loose ball trickle out of bounds without any extra effort.
The lone senior on Washington’s roster wouldn’t allow it, not about to let his career-best scoring effort or his double-digit rebounds stand as the lasting image from a blowout win. He has an example to set for the 14th-ranked Huskies.
“When you’re handed the keys to the leadership it helps you play so much better because you can’t have any let ups you can’t have any drop-offs in anything that you do. … Everything has to be done perfect,” Pondexter said. “I really think that’s helped me play better.”
Pondexter scored 20 of his career-high 29 points in the first half, matched his career-high with 13 rebounds and led Washington to an easy 111-55 win over Portland State on Sunday night.
The Vikings had no answer in trying to slow him down. Whether it was following up missed shots, finding open space without the ball or taking it himself off the dribble, Pondexter put in perhaps one of the most efficient performances in Washington history.
He made 11 of 12 shots, missing only a tip-in that he immediately followed up for a basket. He made his first seven free throws before clanking his final attempt off the back of the rim to leave him at 29 points. He checked out with 11 minutes remaining and played just 27 minutes.
And he didn’t even consider it one of his better performances.
“I just think about the close games. I don’t necessarily think about scoring points or any of that,” Pondexter said. “I just think about the close games where our team needed me. … I wouldn’t say this was my best game. It was fun, though.”
Isaiah Thomas added 21 for Washington (3-0) who swept the three-day, round-robin Athletes in Action Classic.
Jamie Jones led Portland State (0-3) with 14 points and one-time Washington reserve Phil Nelson added 13. But this wasn’t a very welcome return to Seattle for Nelson, who averaged nearly 15 minutes per game as a freshman for the Huskies in 2006-07. He even became a favorite target of the Washington student section who chanted “Phil is angry,” and “Phil is tired,” during parts of the second half.
By that point, Washington had stunningly turned a 15-12 deficit early in the first half into a 40-point cushion. But even as the Huskies were on their way to their fifth biggest victory since 1950, there was Pondexter was diving on the ground trying to snag a loose ball at the defensive end.
Washington won every hustle category, outrebounding the Vikings 47-16, grabbing 10 steals and forcing 20 turnovers. It was Washington’s first 100-point game since beating Portland State 105-73 in 2007 and biggest win since a 67-point romp of Morgan State in 2006.
“Quincy played with a lot of energy tonight,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “I thought he was all over the place. He’s playing some incredible basketball right now. … He was just very active, defensively, on the glass, he was diving for loose balls. Our guys were really active.”
For the second straight night, the Huskies used a first-half spurt to pull away. But this turnaround was even more swift than Saturday night against Belmont.
Washington trailed 15-12 after Nelson hit an open 3, as the Vikings made seven of their first 11 shots. Romar was so incensed as the Huskies lack of defense that he instantly called time out and yanked Thomas.
That apparently was the spark Washington needed. Over the next 5 1/2 minutes, the Huskies put on a clinic of transition basketball.
“We didn’t take care of the ball, gave them easy transition baskets,” said first-year Portland State coach Tyler Gerving. “They won every phase of the game. That’s a very good basketball team.”
Portland State missed seven straight shots and Washington began a track meet, running off a 22-2 spurt that got everyone involved. Venoy Overton went sprinting down the lane for a layup, Darnell Gant dropped a baseline jumper, Elston Turner hit from the perimeter and defensive stalwart Justin Holiday dropped a 3-pointer to go along with a textbook finger roll.
Pondexter was also responsible for helping shut down Nelson, who was in the same recruiting class at Washington. After scoring nine points in the first six minutes, Nelson was held to just four the rest of the way and missed all four of his shots in the second half.