Junkyard Dawgs scrappy in win

Brandon Roy and Mike Jensen must've watched 'The Air Up There' before Friday night's season opener against Seattle Pacific. Taking a cue from UW coach Lorenzo Romar, Roy and Jensen played high above the rim and tough down low, scoring a combined 37 points and 18 total rebounds, leading the Huskies to a 89-71 win in front of 9,851 fans at Bank of America Arena.

With Jamaal Williams, Bobby Jones, Tre Simmons and Will Conroy out because of NCAA suspensions for playing in an unsanctioned game last spring, Jensen and Roy played the mandatory 'tough guys' inside. Jensen even earned a badge of honor for his efforts - a cut to the chin with 9:14 left in the game. He finished with 12 first-half boards, 8 of those were offensive rebounds.

"He was relentless on the boards tonight," Romar said of Jensen's work. "After about the first two weeks (of practice), he's been our most consistent rebounder. He gets those 'traffic' rebounds, where he's strong enough to come out with the ball with 4,5,6 hands on him. It was nice to see him come out and have that kind of performance tonight."

SPU Head Coach Jeff Hironaka agreed. "They were more athletic and dominated the boards on us," he said. UW held a 42-28 rebounding edge overall and 22-11 for offensive rebounds.

"Coach came up to me and told me that we were going to be short-handed, and he told me that I needed to concentrate on rebounding, so that's what I did. And it worked," said Jensen. "We have a great group of guards, so coach wants me to get in the paint when they are shooting the ball. He wants me to use my strength and quickness and jumping ability to get my hands on more balls and it worked tonight."

Roy's slashing, acrobatic play in the paint led to easy layups and strong rebounds early. "With guys like Tre and Will out, I felt like I had to be more aggressive, so I looked to shoot first tonight," he said.

Nate Robinson also picked up the scoring slack, scoring 22 points for the surging Huskies (2-0, 0-0) as they head into tournament play. Freshman Joel Smith had 15 points for the Dawgs, including a one-handed power jam just before the under-16 timeout in the second half that brought down the house and another with 12 minutes left that elicited a technical foul for hanging on the rim.

"If the ref wants to call it, he's going to call it," Smith said of the T. "I'm just glad to get the 'W'."

Jordan Lee led the Falcons (0-1, 0-0) with 22 points, including six 3-pointers. Center Jason Chivers chipped in 17 and Jeff Knudson added 10.

Washington plays Utah Thursday in an opening-round matchup at the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. They will play either Oklahoma or High Point the next day.

The win over SPU was expected, as Washington has historically done well in their first game of the year. They have now won 9 of their last 11 and 75 of 103 all-time in openers. The Huskies already played one game - against Westmont College - but that 40-point exhibition win doesn't count.

The Huskies, while being aggressive on offense, weren't exactly efficient. They were 2-7 from the stripe in the first half and worse from the 3-point line. But Robinson tried to remedy that, going to the line their first three possessions, sinking 5 of 6 tries and staking the Huskies to a 43-25 lead with two minutes gone in the second stanza.

"Coach just said to take what they give you, and they were showing so much of the lane, coach just said that if I could beat my man I should take 'em," Robinson said. "I saw a couple of spots and I took advantage."

"When we're missing (free throws), it's more of an aberration than anything," added Romar.

Once Washington was able to get the Falcons in the bonus - with a little over 13 minutes left in the game, the Huskies made their offense count at the stripe. Led by Robinson, UW went 14-17 after their rough opening-half stretch.

That, along with a pesky 2-3 zone the Huskies employed for chunks of both halves, forced 20 SPU turnovers. The Falcons were never able to get their 3-point shooting off against the Huskies' defense, shooting at a 36-percent rate for both halves.

"I'm glad we're past that one," Romar said, resplendid in his Husky-purple dress coat. "We stayed out of foul trouble and our guys sucked it up when we got winded. I'm happy the way our guys handled this."

Brandon Burmeister was the only Washington player to foul out. Tony Binetti and Chad Williams both fouled out for the Falcons. Five players played over 25 minutes for the Huskies.

Scoring: Roy 23, Robinson 22, J. Smith 15, Jensen, 14, Rollins 7, Gasser 6, Potter 2
Rebounds: Jensen 13, Robinson 6, Roy 5, Gasser 5, Rollins 4, J. Smith 2, Burmeister 2, Potter 2, Fletcher 1
Assists: Robinson 4, J. Smith 1, Roy 1, Burmeister 1, Gasser 1, Jensen 1

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