Robinson powers Dawgs to win in OT

It didn't have the makings of a thriller after twenty minutes, but the Arizona State Sun Devils re-wrote the script. After being down 15 at half, ASU used every weapon but Pac-10 Player of the Year Ike Diogu to slow down the Washington Huskies, and they took the #2 Huskies through regulation. But the Dawgs didn't lose their cool, outscoring the Devils in overtime 12-7 to win a hard-fought 95-90 game in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center in Los Angeles Thursday night.

It was the Nate Robinson show for most of the game, and the junior from Seattle - thought to be headed to the NBA draft later this spring - played like a man wanting to go out in style. He accounted for 29 points, tying his season-high. Tre Simmons, who went out with over 6 minutes left in the game with a groin injury, knocked down the final two free throws to seal the deal for Washington (25-5, 15-4).

"They play like us," Robinson said. "They pressure us and that's how I like to play."

CLICK HERE to see Max Waugh's photos from the game, courtesy of Sports Washington Magazine.

Washington evened their career record in the recently renewed Pac-10 tournament to 6-6 and will play the winner of Stanford-Washington State, a game that was played Thursday night right after the UW-ASU game. The 185 total points scored by both teams was a Pac-10 tournament record, and Diogu's five blocks also got him in the record books.

The Sun Devils, propelled by 20 second-half points courtesy of Stevie Moore, kept inching their way closer and closer to the Huskies double-digit lead. At the 10:34 mark, Kevin Kruger made two of three free throws to bring the deficit to single digits for the first time since another Kruger bomb brought ASU to within 9 at 19-10.

The Devils kept gnawing away at the Huskies' margin and finally broke through with a Kruger jumper with 5:30 left that tied the game at 72. At five minutes to go, the Huskies' Brandon Roy knew it was time to make his presence known.

The junior from Garfield had a layin, clutch defensive rebound and an alley-oop jam off a Will Conroy-feed that gave the Huskies a five-point lead at the last television timeout. Both teams see-sawed from there on out, with Moore providing the tying score on a driving layup with just .4 left on the regulation clock. A long heave by the Huskies came up short, forcing an extra five minutes of game-time.

In overtime, it was a mad scramble for points, and the Huskies made the most out of their hustle. It was at this time that Robinson truly took charge of the game, with spinning one-handers and clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch to build a five-point lead at 91-86 with 2:09 left.

But Diogu wasn't done trying to will his team to win. He scored the final four Devil points from the foul line, but that's when Simmons put the finishing touches on his 17-point evening, draining two from the stripe to round out the game. Roy finished with 12 points and Joel Smith had 11 first-half points for Washington.

"That's one of the better 7-seeds in any conference tournament," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game, giving much praise to Arizona State. "We just had an unbelievable effort in scrapping for the ball."

Washington threatened to run away and hide a few different times in the first half, but clutch 3-point shooting by Kruger kept the Devils close. The sophomore from Marietta, Georgia had 22 points for the night to pace Arizona State (18-13, 7-12), 15 of them coming in the first half. It tied a career-high. Moore matched Kruger's 22 and Diogu scored 21.

"When they start getting their outside game going, they can be dangerous," Romar said. "It's not just the Ike Diogu show."

The reason the Sun Devils relied so heavily on Kruger's outside sharpshooting is because the Huskies completely clogged up the middle. Diogu, averaging 22.5 points per game and recently named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, was thoroughly stymied for the initial twenty minutes by Bobby Jones, Mike Jensen and Hakeem Rollins, getting his first good touch down deep for a layin-and-one with 6:43 left in the first half.

The Huskies mixed their play to take advantage inside and out. Robinson, Smith, Tre Simmons and Mike Jensen all provided bombs from deep, while Jensen, Bobby Jones, Jamaal Williams and Hakeem Rollins pounded the glass all night long, out-rebounding ASU 46-32. Arizona State had only eight rebounds in the first half.

When Smith dove to the bucket for two just before the second television timeout of the first half, UW was comfortably ahead 27-13. The Sun Devils would make runs, but the lead never dropped below 14 for the rest of the half. The Huskies took a 40-22 lead after back-to-back daggers from Robinson and Jensen.

Statistics:
Points: Robinson 29, Simmons 17, Roy 12, Smith 11, Williams 8, Conroy 6, Rollins 6, Jensen 5, Jones 1
Rebounds: Robinson 7, Jones 6, Williams 6, TEAM 6, Conroy 5, Jensen 4, Rollins 4, Simmons 3, Roy 3, Smith 2
Assists: Conroy 7, Jones 3, Jensen 1, Smith 1, Williams 1
Steals: Conroy 3, Robinson 2, Simmons 1, Jones 1, Smith 1, Rollins 1, Williams 1
Blocks: Rollins 1

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