Nov. 29, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) - Scoring, rebounding - even autographing a basketball and poster for two boys inside an empty arena. No problem for Quincy Pondexter in his first month of college basketball.
But getting the slashing freshman to acknowledge being Washington's top dog after he scored a season-high 25 points to carry the 13th-ranked Huskies to an 87-66 victory over outmanned Idaho on Wednesday night?
Uh-oh, big problem.
"I have no ... it's good so far," the obviously embarrassed and modest Pondexter said with a nervous laugh after his third 20-point game in six starts.
"I didn't really expect that much."
Sophomore Ryan Appleby had 11 points and was the only other Washington player to score in double figures. Classmate Jon Brockman had a career-high 14 rebounds for the Huskies (6-0), who have nine freshmen and sophomores on their 13-man roster.
The kids won for the 45th time in Washington's last 47 home games in yet another preliminary warmup before a looming showdown at No. 22 Gonzaga on Dec. 9.
The Huskies cut down on their turnovers, committing only 12 after averaging 21 per game coming in. They dominated the rebounding - 50-26 - against the smaller Vandals. And, following a slow start, looked better than they did while rallying past Sacramento State and Eastern Washington.
"It's a mentally tough thing when playing these teams that everyone expects us to beat," Brockman said. "Everyone enjoys the big games and the big nights."
Keoni Watson, the only Vandal who played in last season's 23-point loss at Washington, led Idaho with 19 points. Mario Mackey added 15.
The Vandals (1-5) dressed just eight players because of injuries and because two transfers have to wait until the semester ends next month to become eligible. Idaho has just three players back from a 4-25 team that went 1-15 in the Western Athletic Conference last season.
First-year Idaho coach George Pfeifer doesn't agree that experiences like these against nationally ranked foes help accelerate his major remodeling process.
"We know what our weaknesses are," Pfeifer said. "We don't have to play here to find them."
Watson, who was 6-for-13 shooting, including 3-for-4 on 3-pointers, said the team is improving in Pfeifer's new program.
"Everybody's buying into it," said Watson, whose team lost earlier this season at Gonzaga by 25. "But it takes time to find that chemistry. Once we find it, everything's going to fall into place."
It did for Pondexter - again.
The Fresno, Calif., native was 9-for-14 from the field. He was so hot, Pfeifer called him "a forest fire."
Pondexter added eight rebounds. He scored eight of Washington's first 11 points of the second half - including consecutive 3-pointers - while taking advantage of Idaho collapsing its zone defense onto 7-foot classmate Spencer Hawes.
Hawes finished with seven points and nine rebounds on 2-for-8 shooting.
Pondexter drove the baseline and down the lane for scores. He made jump shots, going 2-of-3 from 3-point range. His most dynamic play was a baseline dash and soar that ended with a twirling contortion under the basket and reverse layup.
As the ball spun off the glass to give Washington its largest lead up to that point, 55-38, with 15 minutes left, the Hec Edmundson Pavilion crowd gasped and then roared. It was the kind of home noise reserved last season for Pac-10 Player of the Year Brandon Roy.
"We envisioned Quincy being a sky's-the-limit guy," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We didn't know how soon he would reach that potential.
"But I don't even think we've really seen his athleticism yet this year."
The Huskies missed 20 of their first 28 shots, part of the reason Idaho led by three points four times in the first half.
The other reasons were Watson and Mackey making four of their first six 3-point shots. The Vandals led 27-24 after Clyde Johnson made two free throws.
Appleby then tied it at 27 with his second 3-pointer in three tries. Another 3-point shot from freshman Phil Nelson gave Washington the lead for good.
Idaho continued without a field goal for eight minutes while the Huskies methodically seized control with a 12-0 run.