The win not only erased a seven-game losing streak against the Cougars, but it also allows Washington to win their first conference road opener since 1993, also a victory against Washington State.
"It's huge," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said of the win. "People want to talk about the streak being broken, but more than that, you have to win on the road to be near the top of the conference. And we were able to do that."
Washington State came into the game as the country's top defense, but it was the Huskies that turned the tables and ran their style instead of slowing down to the Cougars' preferred tempo. And they were able to do it with an even assist-to-turnover ratio (11-11) while forcing WSU into sizable discrepancies in assists to turnovers (4/14) and rebounds (20 to the Huskies' 36).
"This is a game that we've been talking about since October. We have to be able to go on the road and not give into the environment and play for 40 minutes, and this game was the culmination of everything we've been talking about. I'm very impressed with our guys."
"It's a big step for us," junior forward Quincy Pondexter said after the game. "It's a long season, but we're getting off to a great start."
In what was easily the best half of basketball the Huskies have played all season long, Washington took a 30-28 halftime lead and slowly built on it, so by the time Washington State was forced to foul with 2:06 left in the game, UW was up 13. And the ironic part of it was that Washington State was packing the paint, forcing Washington to use other players besides Brockman - their leading scorer - to provide offense.
Freshman guard Isaiah Thomas scored the next eight points for Washington (10-3, 1-0) from the foul line, putting the game on ice while the temperature outside Friel Court hovered below freezing. Thomas paced the Huskies with 19 points, followed by the 17 of Justin Dentmon, 16 of Pondexter and 10 by Brockman.
"It feels wonderful," Pondexter said. "It's a long time coming. Tonight was a great chance to show that we've been working hard."
Taylor Rochestie led Washington State (8-5, 0-1) with 12 points, and Aron Baynes (11 points) was the only other Cougar to score in double-digits.
The win marks the first time Washington has held a league foe to under 50 points since 2005, when the Huskies beat WSU 66-48 in Seattle. The Cougars shot only 41 percent from the field, including 2-10 from 3-point range. They were in the bonus with 10 minutes left in the game, yet never took advantage of the Huskies' foul trouble.
"Our team is really smart," said Pondexter. "This is our best team defensively, and it's helping us win games. It was going to be a game where we were going to have to come out and concentrate for 40 minutes on the defensive end."
"I thought we were disciplined on defense, as well as offense," added Romar. "We wanted to make sure we took Washington State off the 3-point line. We didn't want them to go crazy."
Conversely, the Huskies were not supposed to be as effective from deep without the services of arguably their best 3-point shooter in Elston Turner, out with an ankle injury. But Dentmon and Thomas stepped up huge, shooting 6-10 from distance.
"Justin played like a senior tonight," Romar said of Dentmon's perfect night from outside (4-4 from 3-point land). "Him and Quincy Pondexter. Those guys don't play the way they did, this game is a lot closer."
Points: Thomas 19, Dentmon 17, Pondexter 16, Brockman 10, Gant 4, Holiday 2
Rebounds: Pondexter 7, Bryan-Amaning 6, Holiday 4, Thomas 4, Gant 4, Brockman 4, Dentmon 1, Overton 1
Assists: Thomas 4, Pondexter 3, Bryan-Amaning 1, Brockman 1, Overton 1, Dentmon 1
Steals: Dentmon 3, Bryan-Amaning 2, Thomas 1, Overton 1
Blocks: Pondexter 1, Bryan-Amaning 1