Top-25 battle in the Pacific Northwest
Spokane, WA (Sports Network) – The 13th-ranked Washington Huskies take their
first steps on a foreign floor this evening, as they take on 18th-
ranked Gonzaga in an intriguing non-conference affair in Spokane.
Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies opened the 2006-07 campaign with an extended seven-
game homestand and to no one’s surprise, the explosive Huskies have won all
seven contests. The team closed out the homestand with an 87-72 win over
Southern Utah five days ago.
Gonzaga has traveled a bit in the early part of the season, but returns home
where the team is 4-0 on the year. Mark Few’s team had a lengthy seven-game
win streak come to a close with a 77-67 loss to Washington State on
December 5th. The loss was the second of the season for the Zags, who
already have wins over North Carolina and Texas to their credit.
The Bulldogs had won seven in a row in this series, but Washington brought an
end to that with last season’s 99-95 shootout in Seattle.
Despite turning the ball over a whopping 21 times, the Huskies were able to
remain undefeated with a comfortable win over Southern Utah. Washington shot a
sterling .583 from the floor in the last game, as five players finished in
double figures. Ryan Appleby led the charge with 24 points, as hit a scorching
6-of-8 attempts from behind the arc. While Appleby was lighting it up from the
outside, freshman center Spencer Hawes took care of business down low, pouring
in 21 points, on 9-of-14 shooting. Forward Quincy Pondexter added 12 points,
followed by Justin Dentmon and Phil Nelson with 11 and 10 points,
respectively. Dentmon completed a double-double with 11 assists. The offensive
fireworks were nothing new for this team, as UW is averaging a robust 88.3
ppg, while delivering on 49.2 percent from the floor. Four of the five
starters are averaging double figures and all four are shooting .500 or better
from the field. Pondexter leads the way with 16.4 ppg. Dentmon follows with
13.0 ppg and is the team’s primary distributor (5.0 apg). Hawes anchors the
middle (12.6 ppg), allowing Jon Brockman (11.7 ppg) to really get active down
low. Brockman, a 6-7 sophomore, is averaging a near double-double, as he paces
the team on the boards with 9.9 rpg.
The game was Gonzaga’s to lose and that is exactly what the Zags did this
week, as they allowed Washington State to go on a 14-1 run to close out the
game and post the upset win. The team got supreme efforts from Josh Heytvelt
and Derek Raivio, who combined for 43 points in the setback. Heytvelt was 8-
of-12 from the floor and ended the game with 22 points, while Raivio hit five
three-pointers and finished with 21 points. Fellow guard Jeremy Pargo added 11
points to round out the double-digit scorers. Raivio, who was recently named
the West Coast Conference Player of the Week and WCC Player of the Month for
November, has been almost unstoppable this season. He is shooting a ridiculous
.465 from behind the arc (33-of-71) and leads the team in scoring with 19.9
ppg. Heytvelt has been a perfect complement in the frontcourt, averaging 17.3
points and a team-best 7.9 rebounds per outing. Pargo is a streaky shooter
with the ability to get hot and stay that way in a game. He is averaging 10.8
pp, while doling out nearly four assists per outing. The Bulldogs have shown
the ability to get the job done at both ends of the court this season,
averaging 80.0 ppg, while yielding just 65.1.