UW Men's Basketball | Appleby shut down, others rise
Seattle Times staff reporter
Cal State Northridge coaches received a little more help than they expected with their plans to take Ryan Appleby out of the game.
But neither scheme, nor circumstance, could stop the Washington Huskies on Saturday, who received some stellar backcourt performances from the likes of Venoy Overton and Justin Dentmon to make up for a painful outing for Appleby, and beat the Matadors 80-66 in front of 9,128 at Edmundson Pavilion.
Appleby, UW's leading scorer at 19 points a game since returning from a broken thumb four games ago, was scoreless in 14 minutes Saturday.
He sat out the last 17 minutes of the second half after suffering back spasms late in the first half and was held to just one shot — a long three-pointer that missed badly — before that as the Matadors (7-3) unleashed a box-and-one defense designed to limit his touches and make the rest of the Huskies beat them instead.
"If they are going to do that, it makes it a lot easier for everyone else to score," said Appleby, who said he hadn't gotten such defensive treatment since his days at Stanwood High School. "It's not like none of our other guys can make shots and make plays — we see it in practice all the time — so we are not worried about it."
Appleby hurt his back with about five minutes to go in the first half when he twisted while making a pass to Dentmon. He said it's the same injury he suffered last summer before the team headed to its offseason trip to Greece, and he thinks he should be fine in four or five days. UW doesn't play again until Saturday at LSU.
He started the second half but stayed three minutes, saying, "I could have played through it, but I wasn't helping anybody when I was out there."
With Appleby limited, Overton had a career-best shooting game, hitting all five of his shots — including four three-pointers — to score 14 points, and Dentmon sank 5 of 7 shots for 18 points. Joel Smith also added two three-pointers as the Huskies hit 9 of 17 overall.
"Some other guys stepped up and hit some threes and did a nice impersonation of him, so that was good to see tonight," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar, whose team won its third in a row to improve to 7-4.
Overton might have been the most unlikely. He came into the game 4 of 20 on three-pointers for the season and hadn't made any since a Nov. 26 win over Long Beach State.
But he hit two three-pointers in the first half, the last one coming with 34 seconds left to give the Huskies a 42-33 halftime lead, which he said "gave me a lot of confidence."
Overton said he thinks he's "a way better shooter" than he has shown so far, citing some bad shot selection for a lot of his poor numbers to date.
"They were leaving me open," he said. "After one shot, I heard their coach say, 'Oh, we'll take that.' My shot was going tonight, I guess."
Despite the hot shooting, the Huskies were still locked in a tussle with the Matadors — a member of the Big West Conference — well into the second half.
UW led by just four when Tim Morris took a three-pointer that hit off the front of the rim and rattled in with 7:09 left, sparking a 13-1 run that included a layin by Dentmon and another Overton three-pointer to finally put the game away.
Romar wasn't overly impressed, however, saying the Huskies had too many turnovers (17) and didn't play defense as well as they had been.
"I didn't think tonight was one where we could look and say we made another huge step," Romar said. "I don't think that was the case."
It only gets tougher from here as the Huskies play at LSU, and then, after a final tune-up at home against Idaho State, open Pac-10 play against Washington State on Jan. 5.
Those teams, however, may have to revise their scouting reports a bit after what happened Saturday, though Overton hopes the film of this game gets burned.
Asked whether he hopes he starts to get a reputation as a shooter, he said, "Not really. Keep guys off me so it will give me open shots. So I don't really want people to know I can shoot."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company