SEATTLE – Any belief that the Washington men’s basketball team might be looking ahead to next weekend’s home meeting with Gonzaga was erased in the first five minutes Friday.
The Huskies made eight of their first 11 shots and led by 34 points after an incredibly efficient first half en route to a 112-65 victory over Loyola Marymount at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Washington improved to 6-0 and won its NCAA-leading 28th consecutive home game. The Huskies won by at least 30 points for the third time this season and are winning by an average of 33 points a game. It was the second time this year the Huskies scored at least 100 points and the third-straight game that they’ve scored at least 90. Washington is averaging 98.5 points a game this season, the highest total for the opening six games in the program’s history. It was also the fifth time this season that five players scored in double figures.
“You have a lot of possessions to score this many points, and the ball has to go in the basket a lot to score this many points,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “I don’t think we’ll be averaging 95 points for the rest of the year, but I think we do have the ability to score points. And again, a lot of it comes from our defense. If it were just our offense, maybe we’d get shut down a little bit.”
The Huskies were as dominant as they’ve been in some time in the first half – scoring a school-record 65 points before halftime – but were helped by the fact that Loyola Marymount (1-2) looked like it had never played a game together before. The Lions committed 22 turnovers in the first half, many of them careless passes that were simply thrown away. Washington took advantage of it, scoring 26 points off the turnovers. (LMU had no points from just six Husky first-half turnovers). The Huskies are forcing 24.6 turnovers a game this year.
“This is the first team that has played this type of pressure defense against us,” LMU coach Rodney Tention said. “It is about passing the ball to your guy and having your guy be able to get open and coming to the ball. You can’t make 20-foot passes against a good defensive team, or good athletes, and that is what we did. They just outworked us today.”
“Our pressure is really bothering teams,” said UW star Brandon Roy, who led the Huskies with 19 points. “People didn’t think it would bother them as much with Nate (Robinson) being gone, but Justin (Dentmon) is doing a really good job, (Ryan) Appleby is doing a really good job pressuring the ball. Our pressure is something that has been working and we’re not going to quit.”
The Lions started out nearly as fast as Washington and trailed 16-12 before an Appleby 3-pointer sparked a 12-0 run in which five different players scored, including a 3-pointer by Hans Gasser.
Later, Brandon Roy scored six consecutive points to extend the run to 25-5, giving the Huskies a 41-17 lead. The lead first hit 30 on an Artem Wallace layup and Appleby made back-to-back 3s to end the half with the Huskies ahead 65-31.
Appleby, the former Stanwood High School star playing his first season after transferring from Florida, made six of 11 3-pointers (Washington was 12-for-24) and scored a season-high 18 points.
“I was taking the open shots I had,” Appleby said. “My teammates did a good job getting the ball to me when I was open and I was hitting the shots.”
As part of its dominant first half, Washington shot 60.5 percent, made seven of 13 3-pointers and all 12 of its free throws. In fact, the Huskies made their first 18 foul shots and were 20-for-23 in the game. Washington shot 53.3 percent and held LMU to 37.3 percent shooting for the game. The Huskies finished with 27 assists on 40 field goals and just 14 turnovers.
“Lorenzo has them playing at a high level, and some day we want to be there,” said Tention, in his first season after serving as an assistant at Arizona. “They are a good team, and they showed it. They came out from the start and made shots. …Today, they beat us the way they are supposed to beat us.”
Jamaal Williams had his first double-double as a Husky, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Bobby Jones had 15 points and Jon Brockman had 11 points and seven rebounds. Dentmon, Washington’s freshman point guard, had seven points, nine assists and three turnovers. Dentmon now has 30 assists and 15 turnovers this season.
The Huskies now turn their attention to Gonzaga, the nation’s No. 8 team and winner of six in a row against Washington. The Bulldogs have tested themselves already, finishing as runner up in the ultra-competitive Maui Invitational while Washington has yet to face a ranked team.
“The last two games, we started off good in the first half,” Jones said. “That’s great momentum going into Gonzaga, because we feel at home we can’t be beat.”
“We’re ready,” Roy added. “If it was tomorrow, I’d be ready. The thing we don’t like is it is eight or nine days away. We wish it was Tuesday.”