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February 10, 2011What a difference a Dawg Pack makes.
The Washington Huskies got just what they needed in their return to Hec Edmundson Pavilion - a Pacific-10 Conference win, something that eluded them in their last three tries.
The three consecutive losses knocked the Huskies out of the top spot in the Pac-10, and they bounced back strongly Thursday night against Cal. UW dominated the game from start to finish, showing glimpses of its early season dominance in the conference, delivering maybe its best all-around game of the season in a 109-77 rout over the Bears.
"Obviously we play better at home, obviously with the Dawg Pack and how they are, we get a lot of energy from them," said Huskies forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
The Huskies had one of their best shooting nights of the seaosn, shooting 57 percent from the field and 55 percent from 3-point range. They connected on 17 3-pointers, tying their season high.
Washington (16-7 overall, 8-4 Pac-10) moved within 1 1/2 games of idle Arizona for the top spot in the conference.
Six Huskies scored in double figures and the 109 points was the most Washington has ever scored against a Pac-10 opponent.
Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Huskies with 23 points and nine assists, and finished with a career-high six 3-pointers.
"It starts with me, no matter what it is, it starts with me," Thomas said. "We lost those three and it had a lot to do with me but we're going to get better and work hard."
Washington also got it done on the defensive end of the floor too, as the Huskies forced 16 turnovers on the Bears, and blocked a season-high 11 shots. This was quite the response from a Huskies team that had their recent defensive performance come into question by coach Lorenzo Romar.
"For us, it all starts on the defensive end," Romar said. "Defensive energy, focus and concentration allows us to be a better basketball team."
The Huskies did a great job of distributing the basketball against Cal, finishing with 30 assists, a season high. Limiting turnovers was another emphasis for the team against Cal. After looking almost careless with the basketball over their past three games, Washington only committed nine turnovers.
"We were under control that's what helped offensively with our turnovers," Justin Holiday said. "We didn't have many turnovers We were playing smart today."
The Huskies also relied on strong contributions from their wing players to put the Bears away. C.J. Wilcox scored 14 points on 4 of 7 shooting from 3-point range. Justin Holiday finished with 12 points, followed by Scott Suggs (11 points) and freshman Terrence Ross (11 points, six assists). The group combined for 10 3-pointers on the night.
"Wilcox and Terrence are big for them coming off the bench," California coach Mike Montgomery said. "I mean Ross is terrific. He is a starter at any other school. He can really shoot the ball."
The Huskies hope to carry the momentum into Saturday's game against Stanford. The Huskies lost to the Cardinal earlier this season, 58-56.
"We are going to play our hearts out, and play hard, and just bring it," Thomas said. "We'll be ready."