Feb. 20, 2010
SEATTLE (AP) - Almost 30 minutes had passed since Quincy Pondexter walked off his home floor for the final time to a rousing standing ovation.
When he returned from the locker room after Washington's 97-68 rout of UCLA on Saturday night, the entire Washington student section that spent all night showing its appreciation for Pondexter's career was still lingering for one more standing applause and send-off to the Huskies' lone senior.
"It was magical," said Pondexter, who led Washington with 20 points. "My family was here, all the people that supported me and to see where I was, everything was just a blessing. Something about this day, it just felt good."
With a national television audience watching, Pondexter turned his final home game at Washington into a personal highlight show. He ripped a 3-pointer on his first shot and scored 10 points in the first five minutes as the Huskies (18-9, 8-7 Pac-10) handed UCLA its most lopsided loss in the history of the series.
His final night at home included plenty of chants from fans, a highlight-reel, two-handed windmill dunk on a second-half breakaway and a long final ovation when Pondexter exited for the final time with 4:25 left.
"There is a lot of joy because you know, right now, Quincy Pondexter is ready to move on," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "After this season is over, he'll be ready to move on and he is going to do just fine. He took advantage of his four years in school."
Pondexter's first attempt of the night, as the shot clock was about to expire, came only a few minutes after an emotional send-off with his parents and Romar at midcourt. Washington students shouted "Who's house? Q's house!" as the Huskies' lone senior wiped tears from his cheeks.
It's been an arduous journey at times for Pondexter, who has blossomed from a quiet and shy player with potential into a Pac-10 player-of-the-year candidate. Saturday was the 16th time he's topped 20 points.
After swishing his first shot, Pondexter wiped his forehead and grinned as he ran to the defensive end. He hit his first four shots and made 7 of 11 attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers.
"That wiping the forehead was 'Thank God that is out of the way,' and 'Thank God that went in,'" Pondexter said. "Some guys it's either hit or miss on your Senior Night. It's hard to be that consistent and some guys don't play that well and some guys play brilliant. With all the emotions going on you have to try and channel it."
Pondexter was able to channel the emotion _ once the tears dried up _ and get the Huskies a key victory and a little payback from last month in Los Angeles. Washington was burned by the Bruins (12-14, 7-7) earlier this season when seldom-used guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid hit a longer jumper as the buzzer sounded for a 62-61 win. The Huskies were angered even more when Southern California handed them just their second home loss of the season on Thursday night, 67-64, a defeat that likely ended any chances of repeating as Pac-10 regular-season champs and put their NCAA tournament hopes in peril.
But the Huskies quickly regrouped and nearly everyone had a hand in this blowout. Isaiah Thomas scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half. Justin Holiday made just his fourth 3-pointer of the season and added 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored all of his 12 points in the second half.
Washington made 11 3-pointers and shot 59 percent. Previously, the Huskies' largest win over UCLA was 90-65 in 1986.
Reeves Nelson led UCLA with 14 points and Nikola Dragovic added 13, but UCLA struggled to do anything right in the first half. Coach Ben Howland burned through four of his five time-outs trying to stop Washington's momentum. The Bruins missed 10 of their first 11 shots and went nearly five minutes without points.
After UCLA cut Washington's lead to 18-13, the Huskies rolled off 18 of the next 21 points. The second of Thomas' trio of 3s in the first half pushed the Huskies' lead to 36-16.
Bruins' leading scorer Michael Roll didn't score until the opening moments of the second half and finished with just six points.
"We just couldn't handle their pressure. Their pressure took us out of everything we were trying to do offensively in the first half, including just getting a catch," Howland said.