SEATTLE - A new basketball season is underway, and the opening game taught Washington coach Lorenzo Romar several things about his team.
How they handle pressure down the stretch was not one of them.
The Huskies followed McNeese State’s opening basket with a 44-6 run and continued on to a 118-64 win Saturday before a crowd of 8,914 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
“There were some things we wanted to concentrate on tonight: playing efficient basketball and doing a better job on the backboards,” Romar said. “And we accomplished that, I thought. In a game like that, sometimes it’s difficult, if you get a lead like that, to maintain your focus ... but all in all I thought we did a pretty good job of it.”
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The game marked Washington’s third-highest scoring total, 12 short of the school record.
And after being outrebounded last week in an exhibition against Saint Martin’s, UW dominated the boards, 69-32. Seven-foot newcomer Aziz N’Diaye led the way with 15 rebounds in his Division I debut.
Seven Huskies scored in double figures, led by senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who had a career-high 28 points.
“In my mind, it’s just being aggressive 24/7 when I’m on the court,” he said. “It’s my last year, I want it to be special, and that only way it’s going to do that is to play with a high intensity the whole time I’m on the court. It’s not feeling sorry for any of your opponents; it’s about doing whatever you’ve got to do to win the game.”
McNeese took the lead 11 second in on a 3-pointer by guard Richard Patrick.
The Cowboys wouldn’t get another field goal for almost 13 minutes, and by then the Huskies were sailing, 44-9. Their lead eventually topped out at 58 points about four minutes from the end.
The speed, quickness and size of 18th-ranked Washington (1-0) were too much for the visitors from the Southland Conference.
“They are a very good basketball team, and this is a tough venue to come into and play in,” McNeese coach Dave Simmons said. “I wasn’t disappointed in the way we came in our effort. They had a lot more guys than we did.”
The game hardly needed a turning point, but there were two exclamation points: one when defensive-minded guard Venoy Overton checked into the game and forced a series of turnovers, the other when McNeese forward P.J. Alawoya sent a solid shiver of a pick into Isaiah Thomas.
The two had words, and then Thomas let his play do the talking, drilling three 3-pointers over the next 49 seconds.
“All in all, I thought we made progress,” Romar said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do every day is make progress.”