Nov. 16, 2010
By Gregg Bell UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Senior Night came early to the UW campus.
Two days before Jake Locker leads his fellow Huskies football seniors into their home finale, Venoy Overton jump-started the 17th-ranked Washington's basketball team out of an early funk with defense. Then Justin Holiday scored a career-high 18 points in a 98-72 race past overmatched Eastern Washington Tuesday night.
Add the 14 points and game-high 10 rebounds from Matthew Bryan-Amaning, and it was Washington's three seniors who showed the Huskies the proper way into next week's loaded Maui Invitational.
Abdul Gaddy showed he's grown up, too, from a subpar freshman year last season. He tied his career-high with 13 points, and was 3 for 4 from 3-point range to tie his total for bonus baskets for all of last season. Gaddy made two 3-pointers during a decisive 20-5 to begin the second half for the Huskies (2-0), who leave Saturday for Maui.
There they will meet Virginia (2-0) and former Washington State coach Tony Bennett on Monday, then potentially the winner of Oklahoma-Kentucky on Tuesday. The championship game of the nationally televised tournament is next Wednesday.
Holiday had eight of Washington's 20 points in the decisive, 5-minute spurt to begin the second half.
Eastern Washington (0-2) was missing injured point guard, leader and defensive whiz Glen Dean, yet led by five early. That's when Washington coach Lorenzo Romar briefly sat down his five starters - Thomas, Gaddy, Bryan-Amaning, Holiday and Darnell Gant - after EWU kept beating the Huskies down court to begin the game. Gaddy soon came back in, but Eastern stayed ahead early.
Then Overton became his usual, menacing self on defense. He and Thomas just about single-handedly ruined the Eagles' night, and certainly their lead, with defense.
Thomas offset his 1-for-5 shooting start with three steals in 15 minutes, and Overton had three swipes while playing 13 minutes of the first half.
Overton stole the ball off a dribble by Eastern's Cliff Colimon at half court late in the half, then flipped a no-look pass over his shoulder to streaking Bryan-Amaning. As the crowd roared over the pass, Bryan-Amaning dunked for his first big play of the night.
Seconds later, Overton again stole the ball at half court. This time he took it all the way and glided in for a double-clutch layup. The fancy pair of defensive plays gave Washington its biggest lead
He did the same thing on Saturday against McNeese State. Seconds after he entered the game for the first time, a McNeese guard dribbled the ball out of bounds off his foot at the mere sight of Overton.
Bryan-Amaning had his second consecutive double-double, continuing the surge with which he finished last season. The 6-9 forward had a career-high 28 points with 13 rebounds in Saturday's 118-64 race past McNeese State.