Brockman has career night in NIT win

SEATTLE - The Huskies weren't wondering at all as to how they were going to gameplan against Luke Nevill. It was simple - they were going to go right at the 7-foot-1 Utah center. Led by Jon Brockman's career-high 31 points and 18 rebounds, Washington defeated the Utes 83-77 to take the West Region of the Pre-Season NIT.

By virtue of their win, the Huskies are guaranteed two games at Madison Square Garden next week as part of semifinal and final action of the NIT tournament. Washington's semi-final opponent in New York City will be Texas A&M on November 21st. The game will be televised by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. PST. The other semifinal - Ohio State vs. Syracuse - will be played right after the UW/TAMU game.

"It was a hard-fought battle and a hard-fought win for us," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the win. "We got up 10 or 11 and it appeared that they were on the ropes - but that didn't happen, to their credit.

"Now we get an opportunity to play on a national stage, in one of the most - if not the most - prestigious events center in the country - the 'Garden'.

"When it comes down to it, we wanted to go to New York," Brockman said. "It's something that we put on our calendars and wanted to do. It's an amazing place to play. Once you step on that court, it's a totally different thing. It's going to be special."

Before the Huskies hit the road east, they do have one more game to take care of at home. They play the Eastern Washington Eagles Sunday at Hec Ed. The 3 p.m. game is slotted to be shown on Fox Sports Northwest.

Despite Nevill's advantage in height, Brockman never gave him a chance to use it for second-chance points. He only had one offensive rebound in the first half (the Utes' only one that half), and two overall. Nevill finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Utes were led by the 21 of Stephen Weigh and 18 of Johnnie Bryant.

"He (Brockman) went at the big fellow (Nevill) right away," Romar said. "Jon Brockman - 31 points and 18 rebounds - I don't know how much more he could have given us."

"Just studying film a little bit, I could tell that he tried to play like the Lopez twins (from Stanford)," Brockman said of Nevill's game. "I knew I could reverse-pivot and use my strength to keep him off. He ended up sinking back and giving me room, so I took some shots."

He also cleaned up on the glass, with a career-high 18 - six of those on the offensive end. "We got killed on the boards - 14-2 on the offensive boards," Utah Head Coach Jim Boylen said. "You've got to give them credit for that. They played hard. But, you know, you let the other team shoot 37 free throws on the road, and you are going to have a hard time winning. I thought we hung in there pretty good, but we have to get better."

The game was in doubt until Nevill fouled out with 4:39 left in the game. At that time the game was tied at 70. The Huskies then went on a 13-7 finishing run, catalyzed by the offense of Brockman and fellow junior Justin Dentmon - as well as the defensive poise shown by freshman Justin Holiday, who played 11 crucial minutes in the second half after not playing at all in the first half.

"I knew I could guard anyone if I could get in the game," Holiday said. "I saw how they were doing their screens. I wasn't tired at all tonight."

"When he came into the game, you could tell that his only desire was for us to win the game and what he could do to help us win," Romar said of Holiday's play in the second half. "If we were guarding better, he wouldn't have played. But we were, and we knew Justin could guard. We needed defensive stops at the time, and we needed to contain number 13 (Weigh). And a lot of times, that's how guys break into lineups.

"You love players that help your team win, and he did that tonight."

In a game where 44 total fouls were called, the Huskies out-scored Utah 27-11 at the free-throw line, shooting 73 percent (27-37). "The refs did a great job," Brockman said. "They controlled the inside, the controlled the game without having to make calls. They came over and talked to us. We were going at each other and the refs talked us out of it. They didn't want either one of us to foul out."

The Huskies and Utes were trading baskets for most of the first half, until UW went on a late 5-0 run to finish off the half, punctuated by a Brockman 3-point play - courtesy of an Overton outlet pass that led the junior forward perfectly to the hoop.

The Dawgpack was in mid-season form, as they hounded Utah Head Coach Jim Boylen from start to finish, often trying to drown him out in sound when he was passing directions along to his team.

"We are going to learn from this," Boylen said. "We've got to get ready for this environment again. This is a good test for us and we have to learn from it. We are going to grow up and we are going to move on."
Points: Brockman 31, Dentmon 16, J. Smith 11, Pondexter 9, Overton 9, Oliver 3, Holiday 2, Wolfinger 2
Rebounds: Brockman 18, Pondexter 3, Oliver 3, Holiday 3, TEAM 3, J. Smith 2, Overton 2, Dentmon 2, Morris 2, Bryan-Amaning 1, Wolfinger 1
Assists: Overton 6, J. Smith 3, Brockman 2, Morris 2, Pondexter 1, Dentmon 1
Steals: Overton 3, Holiday 2, Pondexter 1, J. Smith 1, Wolfinger 1
Blocks: Oliver 1 Top Stories