Washington outlasts Cal

It took Washington a while to put tabs on California guard Richard Midgely, but when they that's when the Huskies pulled away from a game Golden Bears squad 81-69 in front of a sold out Hec Ed Friday to win their first conference opener since 2000.

The Huskies (11-1, 1-0) again used balanced scoring, a deep bench and an energized Washington crowd to overwhelm a Cal (7-4, 0-1) team that hung in for nearly 35 minutes before their own lack of depth showed itself. UW played without the services of junior guard Brandon Roy, who sat out after experiencing some swelling in his knee during pre-game shootaround and did not feel comfortable playing. It will be a game-time decision for Roy when Washington plays Stanford this coming Sunday. "We're unsure what his status will be," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game.

While Roy didn't play, the Cal game did mark the return of Hakeem Rollins, who hadn't played since UW's win on the road against Loyola-Marymount on December 12th. The senior from Mesa, Arizona chipped in 4 points, two rebounds and an assist in ten minutes of play.

Tre Simmons, battling some foul trouble all game long, came alive late to ice things for Washington with 18 points, also shooting 4-4 from the foul line. He led five Huskies in double-figures. Bobby Jones nearly had a double-double with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Will Conroy and Jamaal Williams cashed in with 11 apiece, while true frosh Joel Smith used a solid outside-inside game to contribute 10.

Midgely shot 4-7 from 3-point land, scoring 18 points to pace the Bears. Marquise Kately scored 15 points, Rod Benson 12 and Davis Parris 11 in a losing effort for Cal.

The Cal junior point guard from England brought them back from a 9-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 49 with 13:22 left, but that's when Conroy was put in charge of making sure Midgely didn't get open again. That's exactly what he did. The senior from Garfield, playing his best man-on-man defense of the year, was the catalyst that broke open a close game in the second half. He also added 7 assists to lead UW's effort on offense, giving him 379 for his career. Friday he surpassed Eldridge Recasner and trails only Chester Dorsey (466) for career assists at Washington.

"I told our guys, how many times have we come back from behind?" Conroy said. "We know how to play from behind. It was a collective effort and we got it. We found something in us to win."

"I told our guys, 'we win as a team and we lose as a team'," said Romar. "Tonight, Will came up big in the intangible area. He was a warrior down the stretch. He rebounded, he defended extremely well."

The aggressive, running Huskies also used a 15-20 second half from the charity stripe to keep the Bears at bay once they had a comfortable working lead. With 4:56 left and UW clinging to a 6-point lead, it was Simmons who seized an opportunity to run the lane with a one-handed leaner that went in. The senior from Seattle added one on a foul from Parris, putting together a 70-61 lead they would never look back on.

Early on, the game had the makings of another UW blowout. Built on made three-pointers, especially four in a row courtesy of Simmons, Bobby Jones, and Nate Robinson, the Dawgs had a lead that stretched out to 16 points at one point in the first half, 41-25.

But Midgely would not be denied. Going sideline to sideline around multiple screens, he added 5 quick points to help Cal close the half on a 7-0 run to cut their deficit to nine points.

"He's one of the toughest, hard-nosed kids in our league," Romar said of Midgley. "He was kind of having his way with us. I thought that, down the stretch, Will and our team did a good job of not allowing him to break a scoring record."

Points: Simmons 18, Jones 16, Conroy 11, Williams 11, Smith 10, Robinson 9, Rollins 4, Jensen 2
Rebounds: Jones 9, Jensen 5, Williams 5, TEAM 4, Simmons 2, Robinson 2, Conroy 2, Rollins 2, Smith 1
Assists: Conroy 7, Robinson 6, Jones 3, Jensen 1, Smith 1, Rollins 1
Steals: Simmons 3, Robinson 3, Jensen 2, Conroy 2, Williams 2, Jones 1
Blocks: Smith 2, Jensen 1, Simmons 1, Robinson 1

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