Thomas Leaves No Doubt in Huskies' Dominating Victory
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Category: Sports > Winter > Basketball (Men's)
He wasn't donning a Detroit Pistons jersey and nobody was calling him "Zeke", but Washington guard Isaiah Thomas played a game that NBA Hall-of-Fame point guard Isiah Thomas would have complimented.
Though unrelated to the legendary NBA guard, Thomas utterly dominated the contest, leading all scorers with 27 points and dishing out an astounding 13 assists. His outing guided the Huskies (13-4, 5-1 in the Pac-10) to a 92-71 victory over the Cal men's basketball team (9-8, 2-3) on Sunday night at Haas Pavilion.
"That was probably the best performance I've seen him have as a Husky," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "He was the band conductor orchestrating that game for all of the 35 minutes that he was in there."
Thomas's stellar play at the point opened up the floor for a strong shooting Washington squad that showcased its depth and prowess in virtually all facets of the game. Thomas, Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning all eclipsed 20 points and Washington flummoxed Cal with its dizzying tempo and brawn in the paint.
Thomas' outstanding game somehow overshadowed Holiday's career night and Bryan-Amaning's double-double. Holiday scored a career-high 23 points while the burly Bryan-Amaning netted 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Harper Kamp led Cal with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Thomas penetrated the lane with ease, threaded several beautiful passes in the key and showcased his range with three 3-pointers. A nightmare for the Cal defense all night, the diminutive guard overwhelmed defenders Brandon Smith and Emerson Murray as well as the Bears' zone and box-in-one defenses.
"(Thomas) had an awesome game," Smith said. "Defensively we had some struggles communicating and getting back on defense. We weren't hedging on screens and we weren't helping other teammates out."
Montgomery was clearly displeased with his team's defensive effort, but admitted that Washington played one of, if not its best game of the season.
"We weren't as sharp mentally as we needed to be," Montgomery said. "(Washington is) very aggressive, long and athletic. We just didn't seem to be able to adjust to that."
In his eight years in charge of the Washington program, Romar has fostered a fast-paced offense that relies heavily on lots of outside shooting and offensive rebounding. After struggling on Thursday to establish its offense against Stanford in its first game without injured point guard Abdul Gaddy, Washington played its trademark basketball all night, knocking down 13 three-pointers and winning the rebound battle 43-27.
Seven different Huskies sank 3-point baskets anchored by Holiday's five, four of which came in the second half. Holiday credited Thomas with his perimeter surge.
"(Thomas said) 'If I pass it to you, it's for a reason,'" Holiday said. "He said, 'If I give it to you then you shoot it.'"
Cal endured endless defensive struggles, but the disappointing play from guard Jorge Gutierrez was a big concern for Montgomery. Gutierrez finished with a season-low five points and didn't seem to possess his usual grit.
""I think Jorge really struggled tonight," Montgomery said. "I didn't think he was engaged. We need him. He's one of our leaders."
Gabriel Baumgaertner covers men's basketball. Contact him at [email protected]
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