Huskies keep on rolling

Mike Jensen only scored five points Thursday night, but it was his final three points that propelled the Huskies to a 71-67 victory in front of 9,055 fans at Bank of America Arena in Seattle. The Apple Cup win gives the Huskies their eighth victory in their last nine conference games and with both Oregon and California losing tonight, Washington is in sole possession of third place.

Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar knew that his team had dodged another bullet against Washington State after surviving a thriller against Oregon State.

"We're very fortunate to have come out with a victory against this team (Washington State)," said Romar after the game. "But you have to give our guys a lot of credit.

"There are not a lot of teams that would've beaten Washington State tonight. Our guys took blow after blow and hung in there and at the end, Mike Jensen steps up and hits a big three. It just gives our team a lot of confidence."

With the Huskies down by one and the Huskies playing on what should have been their final possession, Will Conroy drove in from the top of the arc to draw the Cougars in. He then dished out a perfect pass to Jensen who was waiting at the corner of the right baseline. Jensen calmly nailed a three-pointer to give the Huskies a two-point lead with only 19.9 seconds left in the game.

"As soon as it left my hands, I knew it was good," said a beaming Jensen after the game. "I was so excited and I was jumping up and down. I don't know what I did but I knew that we were up."

The play was exactly the same play the Huskies ran against UCLA nearly two weeks ago in Los Angeles. On that day, Jensen launched a similar three-pointer to try and help his team out, but wound up shooting an air-ball instead, sealing the win for the Bruins.

"In that particular play, we were looking for the best shot that we could get," explained Jensen. "I knew that time was winding down and I was due to make one after I air-balled that last one at UCLA."

None of that would have been possible without the Huskies' eruption of points and frenetic defensive work during the final minute of the game. Washington State, fueled by an outstanding game from Thomas Kelati, led the majority of the second half. The junior from Walla Walla finished the night with 24 points while going 6-for-8 from three-point range.

As time was winding down, Washington's heart began to beat harder and the home crowd responded. The Cougars led by seven points with only 1:30 to go, but that was when the fun started.

Conroy took charge and drove the ball the length of the court to make a lay-in while getting fouled in the process. After making his free-throw, the junior from Garfield High wasn't finished. On Washington's next possession, Conroy took the ball up the court again and instead of driving in, he stopped at the top of the arc and drilled a three pointer to cut WSU's lead to just three with under a minute to play.

The Huskies then turned up the defensive pressure a few notches. Tre Simmons stole the ensuing inbound pass and passed it off to Brandon Roy, who found Bobby Jones under the basket. Jones' lay-up brought the Huskies within one and the crowd on their feet to set up Jensen's heroics.

The win also brought out the emotions. The Huskies hoopsters are playing a game that hasn't been seen since the Huskies NCAA Tournament run of the late 90's. Conroy, who along with Jones finished with a team-high 15 points, is usually one of the best interviews after wins. On this night however, the emotions gave in.

"I just couldn't control my tears," said Conroy, his eyes still glistening. "These are tears of joy. This win symbolizes everything that we worked for this year and all the critics that we fought off. This symbolizes everything. Never, ever give up. I love this team."

What's left—it's going to be tough: The Huskies take an unusual break in conference play and head east to face ACC powerhouse No.15 NC State on Saturday. The Wolfpack knocked off then-No.1 Duke last week but will be hungry for a victory after being upset by Clemson in their last game. The Huskies will then embark on their annual Arizona road trip next week to face No.14 Arizona Thursday and then Arizona State two days later. They will then return home to wrap up their regular season against Cal on March 4th, and No.1 Stanford on March 6th.

Northwest Championship-Basketball Style: The win over Washington State gives the Huskies their second series sweep of the season. The Huskies will also wrap up their regular season with a 5-1 record against their northwest conference foes with a sweep over Oregon State and Washington, and splitting with Oregon.

Husky Stats:
Scoring: Conroy 15, Jones 15, Roy 13, Simmons 12, Robinson 5, Jensen 5, Washington 4, Rollins 2
Rebounds: Jones 8, Jensen 4, Robinson 3, Roy 3, Conroy 3, Washington 3, Simmons 1, Allen 1
Assists: Conroy 6, Roy 3, Jensen 2, Robinson 1
Steals: Robinson 3, Jones 1, Simmons 1, Roy 1
Blocks: Jones 3, Roy 1

Attendance: 9,055 Top Stories