Phoenix fail to rise to challenge

Some people have been critical of Washington's early out-of-conference schedule, saying it's front-loaded with out-matched teams. That may have been the case Monday, but Wisconsin-Green Bay certainly didn't fit that bill. Instead, the Huskies had to scratch, claw and grind their way - using some bench muscle - to what ended up being a 87-54 lopsided win over the Phoenix in the semifinals of the BCA Classic in Seattle.

"I don't know if you can compare for that kind of pressure in a half-hour practice," said Phoenix head coach Tod Kowalczyk, who also admitted that his team spent the majority of their practice time for their first-round opponent - UNC Greensboro. "Their defensive pressure just took us out of our offense. They're an extremely well-coached, athletic team that can get out and play tremendous pressure defense. And that affected us a little."

Washington (2-0), will play the winner of the Miami-Air Force game, played late Monday night. That winner of that game will be the champion of the BCA Classic.

The Huskies weren't as prolific Tuesday as they have been in forcing turnovers, but they were still making them count, ultimately turning 23 UWGB miscues into 35 points.

"I think any time we play Husky basketball where we are pressuring and keeping people in front of us and rebounding, it usually helps our offense," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "We only are as good as we are defensively."

The Phoenix weren't going to be intimidated, though. They set high screens, which caught UW guard Justin Dentmon more than a few times unaware, and weren't shy about throwing a few elbows around to get the point across that they were ready to play some strong basketball. They also out-rebounded Washington 15-13 during the first 20 minutes of play and outscored the Huskies on second-chance points.

"We weren't sure how we would respond to the way they play, but I think we responded well," said Romar. "After the first few minutes we settled down and for the most part played some pretty good basketball. We are pretty pleased with the effort."

UWGB had the hoop dawgs a little befuddled in the beginning minutes with different looks, trapping three-quarter after a made basket and playing a stingy 2-3 zone packed in. It was clear from the onset that the Phoenix were going to be just a hair better than the Morgan State Bears, Washington's first-round opponent.

But ultimately poor shooting is what did the Phoenix in, while the Huskies continued to impress from outside. Freshman Ryan Tillema, who debuted for the Phoenix Monday with 18 points - all on three-pointers - didn't score one point against Washington. All-together, UWGB shot just below 36 percent for the game. Bobby Jones, Washington's best lock-down defender, was on Tillema all game long.

"He played Bobby Jones basketball," Romar said of his senior forward. "He played with energy and was all over the floor."

Conversely, Washington shot 55 percent from the field and went 8-17 from three-point distance. They were paced by Jones, who had 17 points. Reserve guard Brandon Burmeister came off the bench to add 12 points and five assists. In total, Washington's bench provided 37 of their 87 points. Their contribution was vital, because Romar was forced to protect starters Jon Brockman and Brandon Roy early. Brockman - who had a double-double in his first career start Monday - only saw six minutes of first-half action.

"He's been playing like that in practice, so you reward him," Romar said of Burmeister's play. "He has stepped up. Look at his line - five assists and no turnovers. He's playing harder. He's more active. He's played against some pretty good guards in practice over the years. He's now maturing. We're not ready to say he's the next Reggie Miller, but he's had an impact in the two games we played.

"If a guy is coming in and busting his tail and getting the job done - it doesn't matter who it is - he's going to play."

"I put in a lot of work this summer, and the way things have been going I was ready when my name was called," said Burmeister. "I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team."

An 18-2 run extended Washington to an 26-10 lead with ten minutes left in the half. The two teams went straight-up for the rest of the half, each scoring 17 points.

With four-and-a-half minutes gone in the second half, a huge dunk by Roy off a perfect feed by Jones sparked a 13-5 run in which the Huskies extended their lead to 25 points and the Phoenix laid down after that. The Huskies' lead reached 37 points at 80-43 on a Roy layup at the 7:17 mark. A couple of minutes later, Romar went strictly to his reserves to finish out the contest.

"Guys have come off the bench and given us a lift, or have sustained what the starters began," said Romar. "We are getting productivity from them, which is great to see."
No voice: The voice of Husky basketball, Eric Radovich, went mute for over five minutes near the end of the game as the microphone malfunctioned. It sprung back to life right after Zane Potter scored his only bucket of the night.
Scoring: Jones 17, Burmeister 12, Roy 11, Appleby 11, Williams 10, Brockman 8, Smith 6, Dentmon 4, Gasser 4, Potter 2, Wallace 2
Rebounds: Brockman 8, Williams 6, Wallace 4, Jones 3, Smith 3, TEAM 3, Dentmon 2, Roy 1, Burmeister 1, Appleby 1, Gasser 1
Assists: Roy 5, Burmeister 5, Dentmon 3, Smith 3, Appleby 3, Jones 2, Brockman 2, Gasser 2
Steals: Williams 3, Jones 2, Dentmon 2, Roy 1, Smith 1, Burmeister 1, Appleby 1
Blocks: Jones 1 Top Stories