Dawgs come up Wooden Classic winners

It wasn't pretty, but first-time road games rarely are. After leading by as many as 20 late in the first half, Washington withstood a strong New Mexico second-half charge to defeat the Lobos 81-71 in the first game of the John Wooden Classic Saturday at the Anaheim Pond. The Huskies used their scoring advantage down low, as former Lobo Jamaal Williams led all scorers with 22 points. He wanted a chance to play against his former team, and his wish was granted.

"There was a lot of emotion," Williams said after the game. "It was a test for me. I asked for the game when I first transferred and I got the oppotunity and I tried as hard as I could to compete in this game and I'm glad our team won."

Mark Walters scored 21 for New Mexico (4-3), leading a furious comeback right out of halftime. He hit four three-pointers in the final twenty minutes, but the first one was the most important. It came on the Lobos' first second-half possession, and catalyzed a 28-13 run through the first eight-and-a-half minutes, cutting a 43-26 UW halftime lead to 56-54.

But Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar continued to preach to his players patience and to use their abilities in the post to get easy looks. Williams scored the next five points, followed by six straight from reserve forward Hans Gasser to give Washington (8-0) a 67-59 cushion with 8:45 left. From that point on the Huskies utilized a rare 2-3 zone to force the Lobos to shoot from outside. Even though New Mexico finished the day shooting 50 percent from the field, they could not put down the big shots when they needed to and the Huskies extended their lead from there - mostly with the help of Williams and Bobby Jones.

"It's great to have guys on your team when you know you can throw the basketball to and you have all the confidence that they are going to go out and produce for you," Romar said of Williams' play. "And Jamaal not only did that our last game, but he came out tonight and did it again."

Brandon Roy scored 18 points for the Huskies, followed by Jones' 11 and Justin Dentmon's 10. Tony Danridge scored 13 first-half points for New Mexico to keep them somewhat close after a miserable start. He finished with 15 for the game, followed by 11 for Joel Box and 10 for Kyle Prochaska. The Huskies also out-rebounded New Mexico 33-25, including offensive rebounds, where they held a 12-6 edge.

"It's very special," Romar said as he received the winner's trophy from Wooden, the legendary former UCLA head coach. "As we stand here right now, this is something we'll never forget. This is not only a legendary coach, but moreso a legendary man. We're really excited to represent him."

"It doesn't get any better than to play in front of John Wooden," added Williams.

It appeared as if Washington was going to take advantage of their opponent the same way they have all season - pounce on them early with ball pressure and execute their fast-break offense for easy scores and good three-point looks. They forced 14 Lobo turnovers, and despite a 41-21 lead with a minute left in the first half the Huskies looked woefully out of sync. Shots wouldn't fall and their ten first-half miscues meant they were playing far from mistake-free basketball.

"We had a group of guys that stayed the course," Romar said. "This is the first time we've played away from home. They played a little different style and to their credit they did a good job containing us. But our guys still worked together, didn't get too frustrated, and came away with the win."
Statistics:
Points: Williams 22, Roy 18, Jones 11, Dentmon 10, Gasser 6, Brockman 5, Smith 4, Appleby 3, Wallace 2
Rebounds: Williams 6, Jones 6, Roy 5, Dentmon 5, Brockman 5, Gasser 4, Appleby 1, Wallace 1
Assists: Roy 3, Dentmon 3, Williams 1, Smith 1, Appleby 1
Steals: Williams 3, Jones 2, Dentmon 2, Roy 1


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