Veterans Pace Huskies to Win

The Dawgs emerged with an ugly victory 82-68 after squaring off against the Eastern Washington Eagles Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Arena. With the second round of the NIT looming next week at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the potential for the Dawgs to overlook a young Eastern Washington Eagles squad Saturday was apparent right from tip off.

"I think there is a lot of excitement amongst out team looking forward to going to New York and playing in the NIT," said forward Jon Brockman after the game. "That makes it difficult to play in a game like this when you're already thinking about something that's coming up, but it's not an excuse at all.

"Basketball is basketball, and you should be ready to play whenever."

The Huskies started flat, looking completely lost on offense racking up six turnovers in the first three-and-a-half minutes. In fact, the Dawgs turned the ball over five straight possessions with freshman Venoy Overton committing three of them.

Were it not for the Eagles utter inability to find the bottom of the net despite being constantly open from outside, the Dawgs would have found themselves in a serious trouble. The Eagles couldn't capitalize though and after six minutes of UW floundering, Washington finally got it in gear.

Keying a 21-4 run, junior guard Justin Dentmon found his range, tallying nine points, three rebounds and four assists - and more importantly, committing zero turnovers in the half. Brockman was his typical brutally effective self, chipping in 14 points on 5-6 shooting while adding 4 rebounds.

The first half closed with the Dawgs on top 45-27

The second half opened similarly to the first, with the Dawgs coughing up the ball and looking unfocused. When the ball was in Dentmon's hands (16 points, seven assists, five boards) and he was looking for Brockman down low, the Huskies seemed at home. That way, they found easy looks, while keeping defenders off balance.

With the game well in hand, Brockman exited the game with six minutes remaining and the Dawgs up 71-49. He expected to watch the rest of the game from the sidelines. The Eagles had other plans though, going on a 15-2 run and narrowing the deficit to single digits by the time Brockman returned. But when Brockman did return, he helped settle things down and bump the lead back up to 16 before a last-second shot by Eastern provided the final margin of victory for the Huskies.

"We played a few more guys that hadn't played that many minutes just to let them play through their mistakes," said Romar

Brockman had another stellar effort with 26 points and eight rebounds.

"A lot of credit to Eastern," said Brockman afterward. "They didn't give up, they kept coming. They played a lot better than we did in the second half."

"They've played a lot of games together, so you'd hope at this point that would start to happen with those guys," Romar said about Brockman and Dentmon's chemistry. "I think Justin playing off the ball has helped him tremendously now that he doesn't have the entire company in his hands. He's able to delegate."

Quincy Pondexter (nine points on 3-10 shooting, six rebounds), Joel Smith (seven points) and Tim Morris (eight points and five assists) continue to remain enigmas, with occasional flashes of brilliance, coupled with mental lapses and miscues. Pondexter, in particular, has looked out of sync in previous games and today was no different as he struggled to get anything going.

On the positive side, Husky fans finally got to see talented 7-footer Joe Wolfinger display his ability to shoot from deep, dropping a pair of three-pointers and ending with eight points on the night.

Justin Holiday continued his emergence as a defense stopper, as one of coach Romar's few players capable of closing on shooters. Despite hitting just six three-pointers, Eastern shooters were open all night from outside, taking 25 threes - many of them wide open.

Freshman Mathew Bryan-Amaning also continued to make a more meaningful contribution by playing 24 minutes and nabbing seven rebounds, while also making is presence felt defensively.

If the coaching staff had hoped to see a consistent 40-minute effort from their team before heading to New York they had to come away a little disatisfied.

"I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half and without discounting Eastern Washington at all, we lost concentration in the second half," Romar said. "That was disappointing but it's behind us and now we've got a big challenge in front of us in New York."

The Huskies take on Texas A&M in semifinal action Wednesday at 4 p.m. PST and then depending on the result of that game will play either Syracuse or Ohio State on Friday as the pre-season NIT concludes. Top Stories