Huskies Claw Clear of Tigers

SEATTLE - Led by the veterans - senior forward Shawn Kemp and guards Andrew Andrews and Nigel Williams-Goss - the Washington Huskies took care of the Pacific Tigers 76-70 in the first game of the Marv Harshman Classic, held Sunday at Key Arena. But it wasn't easy. And the Huskies didn't make it easy on themselves.

Kemp scored a team-high 18 points, while Andrews and Williams-Goss contributed 17 apiece for the Huskies (3-0). T.J. Wallace led all scorers with 24 for Pacific (2-2), while Dulani Robinson added 14.

“I thought we came out ready to play tonight," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We were together, and then we dropped off. We made substitutions and we weren’t able to maintain that level of intensity. Pacific did a good job of coming back and being relentless and being aggressive and got right back in the ball game. Give them a lot of credit; they attacked us and were able to get to the line quite a bit. But I’m glad we won the game.”

The Huskies came out firing, taking a 12-1 lead over the Tigers before Wallace got his first bucket. Romar was pleased with the energy and aggressiveness, things that helped Washington break Pacific's zone. "The first couple possessions we got a couple of open shots but they weren’t inside," he said. "After that, our guys did a great job of moving the basketball against that zone to the point where they came out of it. We attacked it so they had to do something else.”

Pacific clawed their way back into the game, eventually taking a 16-14 lead with 11:41 to intermission after a 10-0 run. "That wasn’t our team out there tonight, with the exception of about the first six minutes,” Romar said.

But freshman Donaven Dorsey had one key three in each half, and then he let Kemp, Andrews and Williams-Goss go to work. They scored 12 of the Huskies' final 15 points to lead the Tigers at half 36-29.

Despite the seven point halftime cushion, Romar was not pleased. “We came out with great focus; it was almost like we became bored with success," he said. "As the game went on we began to make mistakes. There were breakdowns. Give Pacific some credit too, because they are very good in the half court in terms of their execution. We needed to step it up and there were too many breakdowns in terms of our lack of communication.”

The second half wasn't much better, as both teams scored 40 points the final 20 minutes. Robert Upshaw picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in 39-second span, eventually fouling out with 13:12 left in the game. How did the 7-footer from Fresno, who came into Sunday night's game without any fouls at all, pick up five in eight minutes on the floor?

“Out of position at times," he said. "I’ll leave it at that.”

But he didn't leave it at that. “The thing we talk about is consistency and day-in and day-out being able to bring it," Romar added. "That’s acquired over a period of time because of your practice habits. And when you practice consistently over a period of time it will show up in a game. That’s what we try and get our team to do. Sometimes if we don’t do that, when you play a team that may not be as talented as you but you can get exposed if that doesn’t happen.”

Conversely, Romar had nothing but praise for his senior forward, who flourished for the second game in a row on the court where his Dad made memories as the Reign Man for the Seattle SuperSonics. “He played good," Romar said of Kemp. "He was aggressive. He posted up strong. Sometimes he was the one that was getting them in foul trouble because of his aggressiveness. But he did a nice job. This has been the most consistent…Shawn has been consistently bringing it from the first day of practice. Every practice he competes as hard as he can. He runs that floor every time. He’s dialed in every practice, every drill. There’s consistency; there’s no secret. In the past, whether it was injury or the confidence wasn’t there, he just wasn’t as dialed in as he’s been this year. He’s been dialed in from Day One and it’s reflective in how he’s played.”

Pacific used some timely shooting and fouling to break up Washington's rhythm and draw within five points with 1:39 left, but Dorsey's second clutch three put the dagger in the Tigers' back, and six free throws from Andrews and Williams-Goss sealed the win for the Huskies - a win that will also provide plenty of teaching moments for Romar and his staff.

Breaking up play didn't help the Huskies in the second half, but Romar is looking for a better reaction from his team - and he was matter-of-fact about it. "You have to be mentally tough enough to be able to play through that," he said. "You can’t let the slightest little change or adversity get you to a point where you lose your focus. It just can’t happen.”
UW-Pacific Final Statistics

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