Washington focuses on two areas that were lacking in the exhibition game, and dominate McNeese State the in home opener.
Rebounding and defense were the two things that UW Coach Lorenzo Romar wanted to see from his players entering Saturday’s season opener against McNeese State.
He got both, along with a surprise bonus the third highest scoring game in the school’s history.
The 18th-ranked Huskies did just about everything right except make their free throws in a 118-64 victory over the Cowboys.
Defense and rebounding. That’s all it is,” said Matthew Bryan-Amaning, UW’s 6-foot-9 senior forward who scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
He’s underplaying the effort. The Huskies were also relentless on offense, putting up 92 shots, making 43. They hit 12 of 30 three-point attempts.
They also missed 22 of 42 free-throw attempts.
The two higher scores in history have been 130 (Chico State, Dec. 1, 1992) and 123 (Seattle University (Jan. 26, 2010).
Interestingly enough, that Seattle U. game was still this calendar year, during the 2009-10 season. So most of the players on the current team also were on last year’s team. They are now responsible for the second and third highest scoring outputs in Washington’s 100-plus year basketball history.
And, by the way, the players did exactly what Romar wanted on the boards and defensively. The Huskies out-rebounded the Cowboys, 69-32, including 30 offensive rebounds.
The Cowboys also were stymied by the Husky defense, particularly in the first half. At one point, the Cowboys went 12:30 between field goals. It was such a suffocating defense that with 7:19 left when McNeese finally made a second field goal it was already 44-9.
The Huskies forced the Cowboys into 27 turnovers.
Washington led 61-19 at halftime.
The Huskies were coming off a 97-76 exhibition victory over Division II St. Martin’s in which they were out-rebounded, 42-32.
“I would have to say that we made progress in a week’s time,” Romar said. “There were some things we wanted to concentrate on – playing efficient basketball and doing a better job on the backboards. We accomplished that I thought.
“Rebounding and being aggressive. That’s what this team is about.”
Most of the week’s practices were filled with rebounding drills.
“Sometimes I think coach makes up rebounding drills on the spot,” Bryan-Amaning said.
Aziz N’Diaye, a 7-foot junior-college transfer, had 12 points and 15 rebounds in just 15 minutes. He had played just 11 minutes against St. Martin’s before fouling out.
Against McNeese, he picked up two fouls in his first minute on the floor but Romar said “we decided to just let him play.”
N’Diaye stayed active and didn’t pick up another foul while establishing a presence inside.
Aziz is someone who we just haven’t had,” Romar added.
N’Diaye said, “I came off the bench and was ready to help my teammates. I thought we did a pretty good job as a team crashing the offensive glass. I’m feeling good.”
Justin Holiday, who had 11 points, also contributed 12 rebounds.
Washington now plays Eastern Washington Tuesday at Hec Ed then later in the week will fly to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.