The 14th-ranked Huskies rallied from 12 points down to struggle past Montana, 63-59, tonight at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Junior guard Venoy Overton, who was benched after being late for a morning shoot-around, came off that bench to save the Huskies at crunch time.
On consecutive trips down court in the final seconds, he hit two free throws, blocked an Anthony Johnson 3-point attempt to tie the game, and then provided the final margin with a closing free throw.
“(Assistant coach Raphael Chillious) kept telling me when Johnson crosses over and comes to his left he’s most likely going to shoot,” Overton said. “I kind of timed it right.”
Johnson, who played at Stadium High School in Tacoma, said Overton may have saved the game for the Huskies.
“If he wouldn’t have blocked the shot, I had the feeling it was going in,” he said. “But I didn’t know he had that much vertical.”
UW opened with two new starters: Abdul Gaddy who took Overton’s place, and Tyreese Breshers who played his way past Darnell Gant.
UW scored the first six points, but Montana answered with the next 10 and kept control most of the way, with the Grizzlies’ lead peaking at 12 points with 14:30 left.
Isaiah Thomas hit some key shots during UW’s closing run, and he ended as the Huskies’ leading scorer with 13 points. But those points didn’t come easily: 5-of-16 shooting from the field. Senior Quincy Pondexter also struggled with seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. Overall, the Huskies shot just .308 from the field.
“If we would have shot the ball better, obviously we would have maybe had a little bit of an easier road tonight,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “But again, I wouldn’t trade the way this game went for anything, because it’s going to prepare us for down the road.”
Now the Huskies move on to their first road game of the season, visiting Texas Tech on Thursday as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Challenge.
Second half: After UW had fallen behind by as much as 12, an Isaiah Thomas three has just pulled them even.
(And now UW leads, 48-46, with 7:10 left.)
Romar opened the half with three guard, starting the second half with Overton, Gaddy, Thomas, Pondexter and MBA.
Halftime: Montana is up 29-24, and Washington should be grateful it’s only that. Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas have combined for two points: a Thomas basket. He’s 1-for-8 from the field, Pondexter is 0-for-4. Overall, the Huskies are 8-of-33 (.242).
The Griz are in a 2-3 zone that the Huskies are neither shooting over nor working through.
Among the two new starters, Abdul Gaddy has no points, one assits; Tyreese Breshers has two points, one rebound.
For Montana, Anthony Johnson — formerly of Stadium — has four points. Mathias Ward — formerly of Gig Harbor — has two points.
Tipoff: As it turns out, there are two Huskies making their first starts today: Abdul Gaddy and Tyreese Breshers, starting in the usual spots of Venoy Overton and Darnell Gant respectively.
Moment of silence: Before the national anthem, there was a moment of silence for the four police officers shot to death today in Lakewood.
Lineup: For the first time this season we have a change: Tyreese Breshers into the starting lineup, Darnell Gant out. The other starting Huskies, as usual, are Pondexter, Thomas, MBA and Overton.
Pregame: Both teams are on the court warming up. Huskies in gold, Griz in maroon … or whatever that is.
Tipoff is 6 p.m., and the game will be carried on FSN and 950-AM.
I’ll keep this blog open all night with news, lineups, in-game updates and postgame notes, quotes and, as always, comments treated like gold.