Nov. 13, 2010
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - The Huskies came out in all gold to start their season of huge expectations.
Their play was even more golden.
Senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored a career-high 28 points and had 13 rebounds - two short of another career best - and seven Dawgs scored in double figures as 18th-ranked Washington blew away McNeese State 118-64 in Saturday afternoon's opener at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
UW seized a 44-point lead in the first 15 minutes against a team that went 10-20 in the Southland Conference last season.
Senior Justin Holiday had 12 rebounds as Washington basked in a whopping 69-32 edge on the boards. Division II Saint Martin's had out-rebounded the Huskies by 10 in last week's exhibition, raising alarms.
The only alarms heard this time were at the foul line. The Huskies would have surpassed the school record of 130 points - reached in a win over Chico State in 1992 - had they been even respectable at the foul line. Washington made just 20 of 42 free throws.
The students in UW's "Dawg Pack" had a grand ol' time all day - even before tipoff. That's when they serenaded coach Lorenzo Romar as he walked onto the court with a Happy Birthday chorus for him turning 52 on Saturday. The coach just smiled at that.
He stayed happy once the game began.
After Patrick Richard made a 3-pointer to begin the game for McNeese State, Washington held the Cowboys without a field goal for the next 12½ minutes. The Huskies took a 44-7 lead before McNeese State's next bucket.
Thomas made three consecutive 3-pointers midway through the first half to put Washington ahead 41-7. Each make produced a larger grin. And after the third one, the flashy junior bounced up and down in place, pointed to the floor and mouthed "Right here!" The crowd roared even more.
Abdul Gaddy scored 10 points and had five assists. The heralded recruit who changed his mind out of a commitment to Arizona before last season looked much quicker and was far more aggressive than he was in most of his up-and-down freshman season.
Gaddy, who spent the summer with Thomas in their native Tacoma, Wash., working on his swagger and his shot, continually blew past defenders and spun in the lane for fancy passes. One of them sailed past a surprised N'Diaye inside. Another stunned Bryan-Amaning, who missed the lay in.
N'Diaye, from Senegal by way of the College of Southern Idaho, had 10 rebounds in his first 7 minutes of the first half. Those were his first minutes in a game in two seasons. The sophomore transfer had reconstructive knee surgery in June 2009, but moved as easily as he has all preseason.
McNeese State was so inept just trying to get the ball across halfcourt, N'Diaye really never had a chance to control the inside defensively as UW expects him to. His only noticeable flaw in his debut was going 3 for 15 from the foul line.
Bryan-Amaning made just six of 12 free throws. That gives Romar and his staff a new point of emphasis in drills before Tuesday night's home game against Eastern Washington - and certainly before the loaded Maui Invitational begins on Nov. 22 against Virginia.