Washington Holds Off Upset-Minded Montana

Nov. 29, 2009

Final Stats | Quotes

Post-Game Press Conference (pd. Subscription required)
• Pondexter, Thomas, Romar and Overton

SEATTLE (AP) - Venoy Overton made two free throws with 14.5 seconds left then blocked a potential tying 3-pointer by Montana's Anthony Johnson with 6 seconds remaining to allow No. 14 Washington to escape with a 63-59 victory over the gritty Grizzlies Sunday night.

Isaiah Thomas scored 13 points for the ragged Huskies (5-0), who had trailed by 12.

With leading scorer Quincy Pondexter just 2 for 10 from the field, Washington used the long-range shooting of reserve Elston Turner, who had 11 points, to finally score against Montana's zone defense.

Freshman Will Cherry scored 15 points for Montana (4-2), including a 3-pointer that had the Grizzlies up 57-55 with 2:40 left.

Johnson, the leading scorer in the Big Sky Conference at 22 points per game coming in, had just 10.

Montana, picked by conference coaches to finish second in the Big Sky, led 34-24 when Ryan Staudacher made a 3-pointer from the corner 2 minutes into the second half. Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar called a timeout, then stared in apparent disbelief down the sideline at the joyous Grizzlies running to their bench.

The lead grew to 12 when Cherry sneaked in for a backside rebound and follow with just over 14 minutes left.

Washington came back with a 22-8 run _ and with cold-shooting Pondexter on the bench for almost 4 minutes. Thomas made his first field goal since the opening 80 seconds of the game, on a drive through the lane. And when Thomas made a 3-pointer with 9:27 left, Washington was finally back tied, at 44. Thomas threw a punch with his left hand into the air to celebrate just his third make in 11 field goals.

Overton's floater through the lane with 9 minutes to go gave Washington its first lead since 14-12, and Thomas swished a 3-pointer with 6 minutes left to put the Huskies up 53-46.

Yet Montana kept coming. A 3-pointer by Cherry from the top of the key put Montana back up 57-55 with 2:40 left.

Then Pondexter finally showed up. He rebounded yet another miss by Thomas, scored and was fouled. The three-point play made it 58-57 Washington and set up the unexpectedly taut finish.

Thomas had a chance to seal the win, but stumbled into a turnover in the lane with 42 seconds left. Montana, which was coming off a win at Oregon last week, worked the ball into Brian Qvale. He banged with Turner as his shot trickled off the rim. Instead of a tying three-point play, Qvale made two free throws to keep Montana down 60-59.

Overton followed with his two from the line. He also made the a final free throw with 4 seconds left to keep Washington, with its highest ranking to begin a season since 1985, still undefeated.

• The arena observed a moment of silence before the game to honor the four police officers from suburban Lakewood who were killed in a coffeehouse shooting Sunday morning.

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