Dentmon, Oliver lead Huskies to win

SEATTLE - Washington used a run, spurred on by make from halfcourt by Adrian Oliver overtook the Eastern Washington Eagles late in the second half and hung on for a gritty 90-83 victory Friday at Bank of America Arena.

Justin Dentmon scored a career-high 23 points, Quincy Pondexter 15 and Oliver and Spencer Hawes 14 each for No. 16 Washington (5-0), while former Kentwood grad Rodney Stuckey lived up to his billing as one of the most explosive players in the country, scoring 31 points for the Eagles (2-3), but it wasn't enough to overtake a balanced Husky attack. The Huskies also had a sizeable rebound advantage over the Eagles, 48-37 - with the freshman Oliver once again coming up big with nine rebounds, while Pondexter and Jon Brockman had eight apiece.

With the win Friday night, the Huskies recorded their 11th-straight home win and 44th win out of their last 46 games played at BoA. The win over the Eagles also marked their 19th-straight regular-season non-conference victory.

"I watched them play a couple of weeks ago against Gonzaga," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said of the Eagles. "They have improved from a couple weeks ago until now. They have definitely made progress. And Rodney Stuckey is an NBA player. He can play there right now. I don't know what he can't do. He's a heck of a guard, and put that on display tonight. He's just a very good basketball player. I think they are going to do quite well. I think they have a very good idea as to who butters their bread."

The first half saw the Eagles run out to a 12-point lead at 47-35, but then they went dry. The Huskies clawed their way back with 11-straight points, including a bomb by Oliver at the buzzer. The Huskies continued to apply pressure to EWU, but the Eagles wouldn't crack. Neither team had a lead of more than four or five points until Dentmon hit a clutch three from the right corner with just over two minutes left in the game to give UW a six-point lead.

"Tonight we got punched first," Oliver said. "They played harder than we did. We just needed to match them, and we did."

"I thought our team played extremely hard," EWU Head Coach Mike Burns said. "I thoughtour efforts gave us a good chance. I thought for the most part we did a good job of taking care of the basketball, and giving ourselves opportunities for some open shots. In the first half we knocked a lot of those down, but in the second half, we were just an eyelash off on six or seven of those things."

Dentmon, who scored eight of his game-high 23 from the line, fouled out just moments later when Stuckey went to the rim. From then on out, both Romar and Burns substituted at every available opportunity; Romar to get his best foul-shooters in, while Burns did his best to protect Stuckey - who was playing with four fouls himself.

"I wasn't worried," Dentmon said after the game. "It's just a matter of us believing in each other. The second half, we just wanted to stop him, and we did."

The Eagles - who shot 52 percent from the field during the first half - lost their stroke late in the game and the Huskies were able to keep them at bay just enough from the free-throw line to give the home team their final margin of victory. Oliver was a big key, as he was the UW defender that had the most success against Stuckey, and it was Oliver's play on defense down the stretch when Stuckey was sure to be the go-to guy that helped pave the way for the Huskies' eventual victory. During the course of his young career to date, Oliver registered career-highs in points (14), rebounds (9), assists (5), blocks (2) and steals (2).

"Adrian Oliver was a catalyst for our team in terms of providing energy," Romar said. "We were trying to play hard, but we weren't competiting. There's a difference. When we got going, we finished the half strong with a fury, and then in the second half Justin Dentmon got going."

"He's a scorer, he's a good player and I just tried to make it tough on him," Oliver said of Stuckey. "I knew that their offense tries to get the ball to him."

"I thought we played really hard," Stuckey said of the Eagles' effort. "We just came up short, basically. Offensive rebounds (17-11) really hurt us in this game. Missing crucial free throws at crucial times, and stuff like that, but we are just going to get better."
Notes:
Mr. Smith goes to the DL: Joel Smith, who was just recovering from foot surgery, is now back on the shelf after suffering a stress fracture. He'll be out another four to six weeks.

In attendance: The Holiday brothers (Justin and Jrue) were at the game, as well as Tre Simmons, who is about to go back to Spain to play. Justin Holiday has signed with Washington for next season, and his brother is arguably the top guard recruit in the country from Campbell Hall in N. Hollywood, Calif.

Statistics:
Points: Dentmon 23, Pondexter 15, Oliver 14, Hawes 14, Gasser 6, Burmeister 4, Appleby 3
Rebounds: Oliver 9, Pondexter 8, Brockman 8, Dentmon 5, Hawes 5, Gasser 5, Wallace 3, Burmeister 2,
Assists: Oliver 5, Dentmon 2, Hawes 2, Pondexter 2, Burmeister 1, Appleby 1
Steals: Dentmon 2, Oliver 2, Pondexter 1, Brockman 1, Hawes 1
Blocks: Pondexter 2, Oliver 2, Hawes 1


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