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No. 11 Washington runs right past No. 3 New Mexico

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas danced to Washington's timeout huddle after finishing yet another second-half fast break with a basket and a bellowing vocal flourish.

In their wake, the weary New Mexico players huffed and puffed to the bench, their shoulders sagging.

The rest of the NCAA Tournament's East Regional had better listen to all that barking. When these surging Huskies are running in unison, they're no ordinary 11th seed - and not even third-seeded New Mexico can keep up.

Pondexter scored 18 points, Thomas added 15 and Washington extended its incredible late-season roll all the way to the regional semifinals with an 82-64 second-round victory yesterday.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies (26-9), who have won nine straight, including the Pac-10 tournament and wins over two higher-seeded teams.

Washington ran right past the Lobos (30-5), who simply couldn't keep up with the breakneck offensive pace in their second loss in three games, falling behind by 23 points midway through the second half.

"We did a great job of forcing our tempo on them," said Pondexter, who didn't need another last-second tiebreaker as he did in beating Marquette two days earlier. "We wanted to show that we have another level of fast break and defensive intensity. That's what really wore them down."

The Huskies have become the epitome of a talented team peaking at tournament time. Washington began the season in the national rankings, but their season seemed sunk in late January at 12-7 before this stellar finish.

"When I kept saying in January, 'Don't panic,' it was for a reason," Pondexter said with a grin. "We still had a lot of time to come together and make a push like we are now."

Washington advanced to next week's regional semifinal in Syracuse, N.Y., against the winner of second-seeded West Virginia's meeting with No. 10 Missouri today. The Huskies are in the round of 16 for the third time since 2005.

Dairese Gary matched his career high with 25 points and Darington Hobson had 11 points and nine rebounds for New Mexico, which had a 15-game winning streak and a No. 8 national ranking before losing in the Mountain West Tournament final last weekend.

The Lobos, who barely beat 14th-seeded Montana in their opener, have never won consecutive games in the NCAA Tournament, missing their chance to make the round of 16 for the first time since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Hobson, slowed by an injured left wrist, was left seething after predicting a long tournament run by New Mexico.

"They played the best game of their life tonight," Hobson said. "They're not even that good. They just played a good game tonight. We weren't ready, and they beat us."

Despite the pregame plan of Lobos coach Steve Alford, New Mexico inexplicably played the first half at the up-tempo pace favored by the athletic Huskies.

Washington ran the Lobos' seven-man rotation off the court, jumping to a 12-point halftime lead in front of a friendly West Coast crowd.

"We knew they had seven players that were going to be tired, and we knew by the end of the game they would be exhausted," Thomas said. "We did a good job of getting them running . . . We have a lot of dudes who like to run, so that's to our favor."


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