Feb. 22, 2011
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Matthew Bryan-Amaning is the only Husky who doesn't wear his game jersey under his warm-up jacket in the pregame layup line. That allowed him to buy some time Tuesday night.
He had a staffer call back to campus and ask a UW manager there to race downtown to KeyArena and deliver his No. 11 jersey he had mistakenly left behind.
"I can't tell Coach. If I can get it here without him knowing, that'd be cool," Bryan-Amaning later recalls thinking as tipoff at Seattle University approached.
But the manager got stuck in traffic and didn't get to the arena before lineup names and numbers became official. That's how Washington coach Lorenzo Romar and the rest of his team found out their big man forgot his jersey.
The senior did not forget his game.
The Huskies' new "no-name" guy wearing a No. 55 pulled from the equipment trunk scored 24 points, including four on two dunks that shook KeyArena like Shawn Kemp and the 1990s Sonics were still in here, and had 13 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas added 20 points and four assists, Aziz N'Diaye had a career-best 15 points with 10 rebounds and the Dawgs rebounded from their deflating loss at Arizona by pounding Seattle University and former UW assistant Cameron Dollar, 95-74.
"Good game, man. Good game," Romar told his 35-year-old former top deputy before they shared a big bear hug at midcourt as the final buzzer sounded.
Not as good as Bryan-Amaning's game - though his night didn't start off so hot.
"It's a road trip in Seattle. Doesn't happen too often," Bryan-Amaning sheepishly said, searching for an excuse for the wardrobe malfunction that preceded his ninth double-double of the season.
Thomas chuckled and all but pointed at Bryan-Amaning's weird, fill-in number with no name on the back as they took the court for tipoff. No. 55 is usually reserved as an in-game replacement for any that might get blood on it.
"Ugly. Nasty. That number sucks," Thomas said, maybe half-jokingly.
Yet the Dawgs (19-8) knew where to find their inside force.
Bryan-Amaning, who had the best game of his career in the 87-86 loss at Arizona on Saturday, had a thunderous right-handed dunk in the first half. Early in the second, he had a spinning, soaring slam to put the Huskies up 51-32. And he punctuated UW's rout in this second game of a five-game series between neighbors with a two-handed slam and chin up on the rim in the final minutes.
He made nine of 11 shots in all, his second-best shooting night of the season behind a 7-for-7 against Long Beach State Nov. 30. He scored 24 or more in a game for the second consecutive game and fifth time this season. Nine of his 13 career double-doubles have come this season.
"Obviously tonight, playing in a different number is not going to change anything with how we've been working," he said.
"These guys wanted obviously to get a win. We had a sour taste left in our mouths after that Arizona game (which cost the Huskies their realistic chance to win the Pac-10's regular-season title). We believed we worked hard enough to get a win.
"We came out with a lot of intensity, a lot of fight. We wanted to show everybody we are still as good as we think we are."
The crowd for the Huskies' first game on Seattle U's home floor since 1978 was 11,386, the largest in the three seasons the Redhawks have been transitioning to Division I inside this former NBA home arena.
The fans saw how far Seattle U. still has to go to reach the upper echelon of college basketball.
The Huskies wore down the smaller, slighter Redhawks by continually pounding the ball inside to Bryan-Amaning and N'Diaye. Like MBA, the sophomore junior-college transfer blossomed in all the free space inside. He slammed home rebounds. He ran the floor like a guard. He also had three blocks in his best all-around game as a Husky.
"It was exciting," the native of Senegal said of his first truly big night for UW.
The Huskies weren't just dominant inside on offense. They outrebounded Seattle 49-28. They had nine blocked shots - two short of their season high - and held Seattle (10-17) to 32 percent shooting in the first half, when they essentially ended the game by taking four different leads of 11 points.
"We came out with energy," said senior Justin Holiday, whose 10 points made him the seventh Husky in double figures. That tied UW's season high set opening night against McNeese State.
Holiday provided the play of the game in the first half, one that had the festive fans of both teams buzzing through multiple possessions afterward.
Venoy Overton lobbed a high pass in the open floor that was behind Holiday, who was running the baseline toward the basket.
Holiday reached over his head and behind him with his right hand. In one motion that seemed to start near the top of the Space Needle next door, he corralled the ball with one hand and wind-milled slammed it home.
The crowd gasped. The wowed Huskies' bench went bananas over one of UW's most athletic dunks of the season. The Huskies led 30-23. They then pushed the lead to 11 for the fourth time in the half on a block, rebound and two free throws by Darnell Gant.
Washington settled for a 37-29 lead at halftime, then buried the Redhawks with a 21-7 run over the first 8 minutes of the second half. That ended with a jumper by Thomas and 3-pointer by Terrence Ross that made it 58-36 Huskies.
Overton yielded his two-game starting spot to C.J. Wilcox in place of injured Scott Suggs. Suggs will likely remain out Sunday night against Washington State with a sprained knee. Overton fouled out on a scoreless night.
Freshman Ross had 13 points and Gant added 10. Wilcox was 1 for 8 from the field for three points and six rebounds, and admitted to being nervous for his first start. He found out his new role in Monday's practice.
Romar said he was pleased with how his Huskies responded from the loss at Arizona, "very much so."
The coach felt the rally from 12 down to take the lead before losing at Arizona on Saturday was a step forward toward the tournaments of March. Now this, a workmanlike dispatching of an overmatched foe before the final games leading up the Pac-10 tournament begins March 9.
Those regular-season finales are against WSU, UCLA and USC. All are at home, where UW is 13-0 and has beaten everyone by at least 11 points this season.
"I was very pleased with how we came out with a lot of energy," Romar said.
"We're making progress."