Huskies end skid, beat Sun Devils

The Washington Huskies ended a six-game losing streak Thursday night with an 81-68 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. With the win the Huskies (7-8, 1-4 Pac-10) moved out of the conference's cellar, leaving Washington State, who lost in Pullman tonight against Arizona, as the Pac-10's last team without a conference victory.

Washington led by as much as 12 in the second half, and was in front by 10 with 6:36 remaining when ASU quickly trimmed the lead down. Senior forward Chad Prewitt's three-point play sparked an 11-3 Sun Devils run in the next three minutes, making it a narrow 69-65 Washington advantage with 2:51 left in the contest.

Prewitt, the four-year letterman from Phoenix, missed a wide-open three pointer on their next possession that would have drawn ASU to within one, and a quick put-back attempt inside the paint clanged off the rim. Looking to run after pulling down the rebound, the Huskies got the ball into the hands of flashy point guard Curtis Allen, who dribbled to the three point line and hit a wide-open Erroll Knight under the basket for a layin-and-one on a Kenny Crandall foul call. Knight hit the free throw to make it 72-65 game with just 1:32 on the game clock, and the visitors from the desert never threatened again.

Allen's assist to Knight was his second-to-last of the game, this coming on a night when the sophomore dished out 15 in all, many which ended in thunderous fashion. The 15 assists ranks second in Washington's single-game record books to the 16 dimes Rafael Stone distributed in 1970.

Not to be overlooked, Allen also committed nine turnovers in the game. Told of that in a post-game interview, the jovial sophomore replied straight-faced, "That's probably a misprint."

Having been asked to step up his leadership role after the blowout loss to USC on Sunday, Allen responded in grand fashion. His passes simply found their way into the hands of the right people all game long. Evidence of that is Washington's remarkable 60.7 shooting percent from the field. It marked only the third time in ASU Head Coach Rob Evans' coaching career - which has spanned 272 games - which he'd allowed an opponent to over 60 percent shooting. The last time came care of the Huskies as well back in 1999.

"That was a point guard performance tonight," said Washington Head Coach Bob Bender of Allen. "His job is to understand what a point guard needs to do, and I thought he did. The leadership from a point guard, that rock solid mentality was what we needed, and he really delivered."

Doug Wrenn led the Purple and Gold with 23 points on 9-14 shooting. The freshman Knight got back on track after struggling of late, hitting high-percentage shots to finish with 19 points on 8-10 shooting. Grant Leep added 17 to Washington's cause on 7-10 shooting, and proved to be the third weapon to the Huskies three-headed scoring arsenal tonight.

"Tonight we played well for 40 minutes," said Bender, "and had great contribution from a lot of people."

Nobody Husky was happier with the victory than Wrenn, who said after the game that the win will give the team a lot of momentum heading into the game against Arizona on Saturday. "We focused, we buckled down, and we played like a team that had played 13 games," he said.

A relieved Allen, like Wrenn, couldn't help but look ahead for the big game against the Wildcats. "It's huge to get back on the plus side," he said. "Hopefully we can keep building from this and keep getting some wins."

ASU's Prewitt led all scorers in the game with 24. Guard Curtis Millage had 15 and point man Kyle Dodd hit for 10 to round out the double-digit scorers for the Sun Devils.

To open the game, the Huskies came out with some fire in their bellies having not won a game since beating New Mexico State on December 8th in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Led by Wrenn's hot start from field, which resulted the sophomore forward scoring 10 of the Huskies' first 15 points, Washington raced out to a 12-point lead less than five minutes into the game.

Leep added the perfect perimeter threat to Wrenn's inside presence and made the Sun Devils pay for leaving him open. He connected on 4-5 of his shots before half, including 2-2 from behind the three-point arc, and to score 11 before intermission. Wrenn, meanwhile, went to the locker room with 12.

ASU (9-5, 2-3 Pac-10) came at the Huskies with pressuring defense at midcourt, something that UW hadn't seen much of thus far this season. Allen's quickness more than overcame those tactics though, which allowed the Huskies to get open shots whenever Allen penetrated inside the lane.

Game Notes:

In Attendance: Sonics forward Rashard Lewis was at the game tonight, a day after a career-game in Minnesota versus the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Lewis would be just a senior in college right now had he not declared for the NBA Draft straight out of high school back in 1998.

ET at Home: Freshman point guard Charles Frederick, who played sparingly in the Huskies' last game at USC, played two minutes tonight in his first home game of his college career. Frederick joined the team December 31st after playing for Rick Neuheisel on the football team all season.

Deuces Wild: Forward Jeffrey Day had a memorable statistical night, with "twos" being the magic number. He had two points, two steals, two assists, two blocks, two steals, two turnovers, and two fouls for the contest. FYI: He wears #4.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: It appears that the addition of Charles Frederick and the shaky play recently of CJ Massingale has prompted Bob Bender to tweak his lineup some. Tonight, second-year walk-on Sterling Brown played seven minutes, coming in at the end of each half. He played quite well while on the court, scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds without committing a turnover. Massingale played just six minutes.

Next Up: The Arizona Wildcats come to town for a 7 p.m. tip-off on Saturday. Already, one Husky can't wait. "We have our confidence back," said Erroll Knight after tonight's game. "Hopefully we can get a win on Saturday."

Game Stats:

Scoring: Wrenn 23, Knight 19, Leep 17, Allen 7, Brown 6, Barnard 5, Dixon 2, Day 2

Rebounds: Knight 8, Leep 5, Wrenn 4, Barnard 3, Brown 3, Allen 2, Day 2, Frederick 1, Dixon 1, Massingale 1

Assists: Allen 15, Wrenn 2, Day 2, Massingale 1, Conroy 1, Barnard 1

Blocks: Dixon 6, Wrenn 2, Day 2

Steals: Allen 4, Day 2, Conroy 2, Knight 1

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