For the first time in their Washington careers, sophomore point guard Justin Dentmon and freshman forward Quincy Pondexter began a game...
For the first time in their Washington careers, sophomore point guard Justin Dentmon and freshman forward Quincy Pondexter began a game on the bench strictly for reasons of performance Thursday night when UW played host to Arizona.
Dentmon had started 45 of 46 games in his UW career (he missed one start a year ago for a minor team violation) and Pondexter all 13 this season.
The move seemed to inspire Pondexter, who scored 25 points in UW’s 96-87 loss to Arizona. But Dentmon left the arena seeming only further confused after playing just 14 minutes, the fewest of his career.
Junior Ryan Appleby started in place of Dentmon and freshman Phil Nelson replaced Pondexter, with UW coach Lorenzo Romar saying a shakeup was necessary in the wake of the 96-74 defeat Sunday at UCLA.
“We felt that we hadn’t had a very good start in the past couple of games and we wanted to get off to a good start,” Romar said. “Phil Nelson has been doing a good job for us [and] Appleby understands what we want more than anybody else out there.”
Pondexter said he had no problems with being benched, which seemed evident as he scored 21 points in the first half.
“It was a wake-up call,” Pondexter said. “The last few games I’ve been thinking too much. I couldn’t blame him for doing it. If I was the coach, I would have done the same thing. I haven’t been playing well.”
Thursday’s game at a glance
Player of the game: Arizona senior point guard Mustafa Shakur arrived at UW four years ago with a lot of hype. He’s starting to live up to it as his performance Thursday showed. Shakur had 21 points, hitting 5 of 6 field goals and 9 of 9 free throws, and also dished out 11 assists.
Turning point: With the game tied at 79 with just less than seven minutes left, Arizona went on an 8-3 run sparked by two consecutive three-pointers from Shakur.
Next: Arizona State, 5 p.m. Saturday, Edmundson Pavilion.
Nelson also thrived, scoring a career-high 16 points, and Appleby had a poor shooting night (1 for 7 on three-pointers) but had four assists and just one turnover in 31 minutes.
Dentmon, however, scored just four points with two turnovers and three assists, and played just five minutes in the second half.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be starting, but the benching, I don’t know about that,” Dentmon said. “I guess I’m not working hard enough in practice so I’ve got to pick it up and stop being lackadaisical. It’s hard to get the message across, but I’m going to keep trying. I’m not going to give up. I’m going to keep playing. It’s not going to cause a rift. I’m going to stay with my team and stay focused.”
UW had made just one lineup change for performance reasons prior to Thursday night.
Romar said he was unsure what lineup will start Saturday against Arizona State.
• UW center Spencer Hawes said he’s been battling a stomach flu much of the week, unable to keep liquids down. Still, he played 29 minutes despite missing the first minute of the second half while having an IV, the first one he said he’s had in his life.
• Arizona recruited Pondexter for a while before getting a commitment from Chase Budinger instead. Arizona coach Lute Olson said Pondexter’s play Thursday reminded the Wildcats why they had been interested. “I told Quincy, ‘I thought you were trying to beat us by yourself,’ ” Olson said.
• The Dawg Pack continued a tradition of chanting an Arizona player’s cell phone number. A few years ago it was Channing Frye. Thursday night it was Budinger.
• Taking in the game from behind the UW bench were former Huskies Hakeem Rollins and Zane Potter. Also attending the game was Nate Robinson, in town with the Knicks, who play the Sonics tonight.
Times reporter Jayda Evans contributed to this report.