Same story, different hero

The usual suspects were awfully quiet Sunday at Hec Ed. Even the full house of Washington fans were conspicuously timid for most of the game, at least until Mike Jensen gave them reason to cheer. The junior forward from Kent put his game together on both ends of the floor down the stretch as the Huskies pulled out a tough 76-73 win over Stanford despite their worst team shooting performance of the season.

Sunday's game didn't have close to the feel of the last Washington home win over the Cardinal. That happened last season, as the Huskies took care of then-number-one Stanford 75-62 in front of a national TV audience. For this game, it was all Jensen. He provided a deft shooting touch from outside and a couple of key blocks and stout defensive play when Washington needed it most.

An uncharacteristic miscue by Nate Robinson gave the Cardinal life with less than 30 seconds left in the game down by one, but Jensen's subsequent rebound on the defensive end and two clutch free throws to round out his 17-point career-best day provided the margin of victory for the Dawgs. He also led the Huskies in steals, with four.

"I wish I could say I ate my Wheaties or something, but it was just another day," Jensen said afterward. "I guess it was just my day to step up."

"Mike's a very emotional player," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "When he's focused, he's very good. He responded today, and we needed him."

Tre Simmons added 17 more for the Huskies (12-1, 2-0) and Robinson was the only other Husky to reach double-digits with 10 as Washington was 27-64 from the field for the day (44.4%). UW has only shot less than 50 percent from the field four times this season, with their next worst effort coming against Alabama (.446). That game was also a three-point win in UW's favor.

Stanford (6-6, 0-2), with balanced scoring you would normally see from UW, was paced by Chris Hernandez and Dan Grunfeld, who had 15 points apiece. True freshman Tim Morris and center Rob Little added 12 each, while Matt Haryasz chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds in a gutty effort.

"That was a good college basketball game and Washington was better," Stanford Head Coach Trent Johnson said. "They made the plays down the stretch to win the game and we didn't. They were able to get to the rim, get to the basket and get to the free-throw line, and we weren't."

The Cardinal had to hang on for dear life right out of the gate, as the Huskies pounced to a 6-point lead with 19 minutes left in the first half. But clutch inside play by Haryasz - eight of his ten rebounds came in the first half - brought Stanford back to tie the game twice before Washington settled on a three-point lead going into halftime.

The second half saw Washington taking it to the Cardinal more with aggressive play toward the cup. But for as many good looks the Huskies got, they couldn't convert - shooting 11-28 for the final twenty minutes. Put-backs weren't going in and layins would slide off the rim. They clung on to 7-point advantages for large chunks of the second half, but could neither add to their advantage, nor maintain it.

Grunfeld started getting open looks from behind the arc, and buried a couple of them. The Cardinal took their first lead of the game, at 4:55 left, right after Haryasz picked up his fifth foul.

While their shots weren't going down from the field - they only took 7 3-point shots the entire game, the first time they have been below double-digits in attemps all year - the Huskies continued to pound at Stanford, drawing foul after foul. While only 2-6 from the charity stripe in the first half, UW scored 16 of their 40 second-half points from the line. The Cardinal, 5-5 from the line in the first half, never saw the stripe in the second.

The game see-sawed from there on out, with Washington tying the game at 71 with 1:48 left. Jensen, who had brought the docile Hec Ed crowd to it's feet for the first time with a three-pointer with 3:23 left, came up huge on the defensive end, grabbing a rebound on a Morris miss of a layin with just 12.1 seconds left to bail out Robinson.

"Coming out of the huddle, coach (Romar) just told me to knock it down," Jensen said of the pivotal three set up for him. "It was a confidence-booster."

Robinson, the crafty junior guard for the Huskies, found himself driving to the baseline with time remaining on Washington's shot clock. Instead of backing the ball out and milking the clock, Nate put up a running one-hander that hit the side of the backboard and into the waiting arms of a Cardinal defender. Little was given a pass on the break that he was unable to convert with a driving layin, giving Jensen the board - and possession - Washington needed to salt away the victory.

"I don't remember that play," Romar said when asked about it. "We all know what a great player Nate is. He's won a lot of ballgames for us."

"I'm not surprised with anything that Nate does," Johnson added. "He is all about making plays."

And for at least one night - so was Mike Jensen.


Notes:
Two official visits: Harvey Perry and Roburt Sallie were in town this weekend on their official visits. Artem Wallace, Jon Brockman and Martell Webster were also spotted at the game. O'Dea's Mitch Johnson, headed to Stanford next year, was also in attendance, checking things out.

Roy's return: Brandon Roy played 13 minutes against Stanford, scoring six points. He also had a key assist feeding the ball down low to Bobby Jones for a layup with less than a minute to go to give Washington a three-point lead.


Statistics:
Points: Jensen 17, Simmons 17, Robinson 10, Conroy 8, Williams 7, Jones 6, Roy 6, Smith 3, Rollins 2
Rebounds: Jensen 7, Simmons 7, Williams 6, Robinson 5, Jones 3, Conroy 2, Roy 2, Smith 1, Rollins 1
Assists: Conroy 7, Robinson 3, Simmons 2, Jones 1, Jensen 1, Roy 1, Williams 1
Steals: Jensen 4, Jones 2, Robinson 2, Conroy 1, Roy 1, Williams 1
Blocks: Jensen 2

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