Dawgs alive for one more day

LOS ANGELES - Washington didn't start out strong, but they came on in a hurry. They used a 22-3 to finish off the first half, propelled by the strong inside play of Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes, to eventually take out Arizona State 59-51 Wednesday night in the first round of the Pac-10 men's basketball tournament at the Staples Center.

With the win, the seventh-seeded Huskies will play No. 2 seed Washington State Thursday night at 8:50 p.m, a team they have not beaten in two years. Thursday night, the winner of that game to face the winner of No. 3 USC and No. 6 Stanford. Conventional wisdom is currently saying that UW could be on the bubble for an NCAA at-large berth if they make it to the finals of the Pac-10 tournament, and this win over a scrappy Arizona State team was the first step along an ominous path.

Washington (19-12, 9-10) was led by the 16 points and 10 rebounds of Brockman, while Hawes and Justin Dentmon added 13. Ryan Appleby added 11 points. Arizona State was paced by the 13 points of Jerren Shipp, the only Sun Devil to score in double-digits.

"I'm extremely proud of our guys and our mental toughness tonight," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "I'm so impressed with the job that the Arizona State coaches and staff have done. They've never put their heads down and continue to scrap. This kind of game has happened far too often for him. They have found a way to be competitive in almost every conference and they've continued to work. Our hat's are off to their team."

Despite an eight-point lead at half, the Huskies didn't handle their prosperity well, giving up the lead to a Derek Glasser three-point shot with 12:11 left to play. And things didn't look like they were going to get much better when sophomore captain Brockman was called with his fourth foul with 8:37 to go, but UW wouldn't give in. Romar could feel it slipping away, and called on his team for one last big boost to push through to the end.

"There was a crossroads," he said. "We were there, and we didn't have a whole lot of energy. That was not the time to not have energy."

Using an Appleby three-point shot and a Quincy Pondexter dunk to retake the lead at 46-45 with 6:03 left, Romar was able to steal over four minutes with Brockman on the bench, down only one when he returned with 4:20 left to play in the game.

When Brockman finally got back in, his presence was felt. His turnaround jumper with just over two minutes left gave the Huskies a two-possession lead, 52-48. "Jon's dive on the floor in the first half was probably one of the most important points in the game because it got us going," Romar said of the sophomore from Snohomish. "And those are things he's been doing all year. Justin (Dentmon) hit some big shots for us."

With 1:41 left, Arizona State called a 30-second timeout, and then Romar called one right on top of that. Whether they'll admit it or not, it appeared as if ASU forgot that there were 16 seconds left on the 35-second clock, as they let it run down without a quick shot.

Dentmon had a chance to make the Devils pay for that turnover, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. Fortunately for UW, after Dentmon fouled ASU's Christian Polk, Polk did the exact same thing. Appleby came up with two long rebounds and made three of four foul shots to give the Huskies a 55-48 lead they would not relinquish. Overall, Washington held Arizona State to one shot during the final 4:20.

But that defensive intensity that also helped the Huskies to wins over USC and UCLA to finish the Pac-10 regular season just wasn't there at all early on. They came out flat, gave the Sun Devils time and room to shoot, and ASU took advantage. That, coupled with their biggest issue of the season – turnovers – and it was clear whatever momentum the Huskies had gained by beating back-to-back Top-25 teams was gone as quickly as it came.

But fueled by the inside doggedness of Brockman and Hawes, combined with a newfound tenacity on the defensive end, the Huskies made their run. And their work on the defensive end paid dividends, as the Sun Devils' shooting came back down to earth with a resounding thud, as they hit only one of their final 12 shots to finish the first half.

Offensively, UW used a 10-3 first-half gap on the offensive glass to pound away at ASU's mis-matched interior. And if it weren't for the Huskies missing seven free throws, their 32-24 intermission advantage would have been even greater.

"We couldn't seem to find a way to get to the basket," Romar said. "We eventually did, and we turned up the defensive heat and that allowed us to take a lead into halftime. When we were down, guys continued to work.

"We got the first one done, we're excited about it, and now we have a chance to move on."
Shaw hurt: UW Assistant Coach Jim Shaw was wearing a boot after suffering a high ankle sprain playing one-on-one with Tim Morris Tuesday.

In attendance: Seen in the stands were former UW basketball player Jamaal Williams and former UW football player Brendan Jones.

No bench: No one from the bench scored for UW Wednesday night, the first time that's happened this year. Three-bombs: With his two 3-point field goals against ASU, Appleby established the Huskies' season record with 81, breaking Tre Simmons' 2005 total of 80. Appleby is also tied for second all-time with Curtis Allen with 155.
Points: Brockman 16, Hawes 13, Dentmon 13, Appleby 11, Pondexter 6
Rebounds: Brockman 10, Hawes 9, Appleby 6, Dentmon 4, TEAM 4, Pondexter 2, Oliver 2, Wallace 1, Gasser 1
Assists: Hawes 3, Dentmon 3, Oliver 2, Brockman 1, Wallace 1
Steals: Dentmon 2, Brockman 1
Blocks: Hawes 1

Dawgman.com Top Stories