Huskies escape Beavers' comeback bid

Emotionally drained and a step slow after Thursday's emotional come-from-behind win over Oregon, the Washington men's basketball team stopped Oregon State on its last possession to hold on for an 80-79 Valentine's Day win Saturday afternoon at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

The Beavers had a chance to win when they came out of a final timeout with possession of the ball and 19.5 seconds left in regulation, their likely strategy to get the ball into the red-hot hands of junior big-man David Lucas, who had already posted a career-high 29 points.

Fortunately for Washington, that wasn't how it played out. Here's how it did:

Guard J.S. Nash received the inbounds pass, worked a dribble down the court with Will Conroy on his hip, and found Lucas completely swarmed, fronted by Mike Jensen while Nate Robinson played behind the forward with a watchful eye. Seeing no other options, Nash dished the ball to guard Chris Stephens, received a return pass, and hoisted up a last-second fadeaway over the outstretched hands of Conroy that hit nothing but glass.

Husky forward Bobby Jones cleared everyone out for the rebound…red light, final buzzer, Huskies win.

"Mike did a fantastic job of fronting (Lucas) so they couldn't get the ball to him right away," said Romar. They had success in the game prior to that."

Jensen said he had strict directions from the coaching staff on his defensive assignment for the Beavers' final possession.

"They told me, ‘No matter what, even with four fouls, you don't let (Lucas) touch the ball,'" said the sophomore forward from Kent. "I said I wouldn't."

"I wasn't happy with our final two possessions and I would have liked to get the ball into Lucas' hands," said Beavers coach Jay John. "Washington has a lot of athletes and they were going to make it hard for us, but I would have liked to have gotten him the ball."

Romar will take the victory.

"We dodged a bullet (today)," said the Husky coach in the media room following the game. "We got out-scrapped tonight.

"Mentally we were distracted for whatever reason, and there is no room to do that in Pac-10 play. Hopefully we can learn from this in a victory."

Jones's final rebound to seal the Husky victory came after the sophomore from Compton, Calif. made a mental lapse on the team's previous offensive possession, when he grabbed a rebound off of miss by Brandon Roy and tried to go back up for a shot rather than pass the ball out and run down the clock.

"Bobby is so intense, so aggressive that when he gets (the ball) he's so determined that he wants to go right back up with it," said Romar. "He's gotten so much better with it but (in that situation) there's 21 seconds on the clock, you're up one and you've got to bring that one back out.

"Bobby knew right away what he did and he's not one that's going to make excuses."

It was the seventh win in the Huskies last eight games, completing a season-sweep for Washington (12-9, 7-6 Pac-10) over the Beavers. Oregon State (9-13, 3-9), meanwhile, has dropped seven of its last eight contests.

The Huskies very nearly squandered the game after having led for nearly the entire 40 minutes. They took their first lead 1:26 into the game, and pushed it up to as much as 12 in the first half before going to the locker room ahead by nine at 50-41.

Oregon State rallied back behind the unstoppable play of Lucas, who proved to be too strong and too quick for any of the Huskies' post players. Time and time again, the Beavers' guards located Lucas, son of former NBA toughman Maurice Lucas, down low and let the 6-foot-7 junior do the rest.

"He's tough inside," said Jensen of the Beavers' big-man. "Every single play he is relentless the way he goes after the ball, and they feed it too him real nice."

Largely due to Lucas' play, the visitors from Corvallis crept to within two with 12:09 to go in the game after a three-pointer from Vic Remmers.

The Huskies answered the OSU run with one of their own, getting the ball into the hands of their best pure shooter, Tre Simmons. The junior college transfer from Green River CC didn't let his team down, doing most of his damage by coming off of screens and firing up shots Dale Ellis style. Simmons scored eight points over the next 3:21 to lead the Huskies on a 12-3 run and push their lead back up to 11 with just 8:48 to go.

Again, the Beavers didn't go away.

This time, like before, it was Lucas that led the charge as OSU rattled off 15 unanswered points, the final six coming on three-pointers by freshman Angelo Tsagarakis and junior Jim Hanchett. Washington, stunned and shell-shocked all at once, suddenly trailed by four with 3:28 to go.

Like a boxer that had led then been knocked down, the Huskies gathered their composure, got a boost from the rowdy home crowd of 7,622 in attendance, and came back.

First, Hakeem Rollins put back a Roy miss to make it 77-75.

Then, Robinson forced OSU guard Lamar Hurd into a five-second violation, giving possession back to the purple and gold.

Conroy was then fouled at the other end, and converted both free throws in a one-and-one situation to knot the score at 77.

Nash responded, true to form, with a beautiful pull-up jumper from 15-feet out to put the Beavers on top, but it was the last time OSU would have the benefit of the lead.

After a missed three-point attempt by Jensen, UW recaptured the lead when Conroy stole a pass in traffic and darted the other way with a galloping dribble and numbers in his favor. With Jones on his left and Robinson on his right, he passed to his right and let Robinson finish with a high layin. Nate-Rob was fouled on the play and hit the pressure-packed free throw what resulted in the final points of the game.

Lucas' 29 points led the Beavers, and came on 11-19 shooting from the field and 7-9 shooting from the free throw line. He added six rebounds, two steals and the critical late block on Jones.

Washington was led by the 17 of Simmons. Conroy had 13, Robinson added 12 and Simmons 11.


Notes:
Up Next: Washington welcomes the cross-state rival Washington State Cougars into Hec Ed next Thursday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Cruel Intentions: The Husky student section was ruthless with their chants all game long, directing most of the attention on three Beaver players – Chris Stephens, Jim Hanchett and Lamar Hurd. Stephens, who hoisted up an airball early on, was greeted with chants of "Airball" each time he touched the ball from that point on. Hanchett muffed two dunk attempts, and heard "You can't dunk" for the rest of the game. And poor Hurd had the first letter of his last name changed to a "T," a chant that he's probably had to endure since grade school days.


Stats:
Points: Simmons 17, Conroy 13, Robinson 12, Jensen 11, Roy 7, Rollins 6, Allen 5, B. Jones 5, A. Washington 4
Rebounds: Robinson 6, B. Jones 5, Roy 4, Rollins 4, Simmons 3, Allen 3, Jensen 2, Conroy 2, A. Washington 2
Assists: Conroy 7, Simmons 4, Robinson 2, Roy 2, Jensen 1
Steals: Roy 2, B. Jones 1, Jensen 1, Robinson 1, Conroy 1, Allen 1
Blocks: Rollins 1, Jensen 1

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