Quincy Pondexter steps up in Washington's 72-54 defeat of Pacific
The Huskies worked efficiently against a Tigers zone that stymied forward Jon Brockman. Quincy Pondexter filled in admirably.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Shortly after his work was over and the Washington Huskies reserves mopped up the Pacific Tigers in the final minutes, Quincy Pondexter sat on the bench and exhaled a long sigh of relief.
Seated next to Justin Dentmon, the other hero in UW's 72-54 win, they clowned around, shared private jokes and enjoyed the final minutes of a convincing victory before a crowd of 7,527 at Edmundson Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
"Those are the best times in your life right there," Pondexter said. "You sit down and you got the game in the bag and you're just laughing about little things, like the guys in the game and what they're doing. I think it's more a laughter of we're getting better.
"We still got a long ways to go, and it's going to be a fun season."
It's difficult to say who needed this type of game more, the Huskies or Pondexter.
Washington, which had lost its past two, evened its record to 3-3 in a paint-by-numbers type of outing in which the Huskies never trailed and led by at least nine points throughout the second half. Despite missing 12 of 24 free throws and committing 19 turnovers, the Huskies dominated from the start and won by 18 points.
"In spite of the turnover and in spite of the missed free throws, we still made progress," coach Lorenzo Romar said.
The Huskies scored 36 points in each half and worked efficiently in the half court against a Tigers zone that stymied forward Jon Brockman. Pondexter filled in admirably.
He had nine points and nine rebounds at intermission, leading Washington to a 36-26 advantage. Pondexter finished with 16 points and a career-best 12 rebounds for his just his third double-double and his first since Jan. 12, 2008.
Pondexter may have been the star in the rare midday contest, but the 6-foot-6 junior forward admits he still doesn't understand his role with the Huskies after the season's first six games.
"I have no idea," he said.
When asked if the uncertainty is disturbing, he said: "It's early, man. It's really early. You can't write me off yet. A lot of people do that all the time, but I laugh at that stuff. It's not the fact that I can't play, it's just putting me where I can get easy stuff."
There was nothing easy about Pondexter's performance against the Tigers, who fell to 2-2. He controlled the glass, hauling in seven offensive rebounds while Brockman (13 points) finished with a season-low six rebounds. Pondexter also took over the scoring duties, converting 6 of 12 field goals, while freshman guard Isaiah Thomas managed just nine points on 4-for-11 shooting.
"While not playing a highlight-reel game, he played as solid of an all-around basketball game as he has since he's been here," Romar said. "He went out today and just kind of got lost in the game."
Too often, Pondexter has simply appeared lost on the court.
He began his seesaw season with a scoreless outing in a defeat at Portland that had critics counting down the days until he was replaced in the starting lineup. He followed the opener with a 15-point performance that quieted the skeptics, but he tallied just 6, 7 and 4 points, respectively, in the past three games — performances that started the countdown again.
"With Q, it's all about confidence," said Dentmon, who scored 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
Said Romar: "Sometimes he's really hard on himself. Sometimes he's his worst critic and sometimes he over-thinks as a result."
To combat the frustration, Pondexter began putting in extra time. He'd practice after games, including the occasional 2 a.m. workout.
"I was really down on myself, and I was really just trying to find my way with this team," he said. "Trying to figure out where I fit in as far as doing well. I have no goals for myself. I just want us to win."
Pondexter acknowledged the next six weeks give Washington a chance to discover its identity and time for him to find a role that feels comfortable. The Huskies play nine of the next 10 games at home and they don't leave the state until Jan. 15.
"Today was a glimpse at what I can possibly do," Pondexter said.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
Attendance: 7,527. Officials: Verne Harris, Ruben Ramos, Bill Kennedy.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies