Dentmon Dials up a W

SEATTLE - Junior Justin Dentmon led the Washington Huskies to an ugly 84-69 victory against the Long Beach State 49'ers Monday night at Bank of America Arena. He scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the second half at a time when the Huskies couldn't buy a bucket from the free-throw line.

The Dawgs got a welcome breather Monday, looking to rebound after a disappointing NIT trip to New York City resulted in losses to the Texas A&M Aggies and the Syracuse Orange. With snow threatening to cover the Puget Sound, the Huskies hoped to warm things up inside the 'Bank against the 49'ers (1-3) coming off a disappointing overtime loss to Pepperdine.

Tonight's game was the first ever meeting between the Huskies and 49ers, led by former Gonzaga and Minnesota head coach Don Monson - in his first season with the program.

The Dawgs started fast. Rattling off seven unanswered points to start the game. Washington used a sizable height advantage in the back court to soften the 49'ers defense, lighting it up from outside early in the game. The Huskies hit five three-pointers in the early going, led by Joel Smith - who connected on 3 treys in the half and finished the night 4-4 from downtown, and 13 points overall.

"If you've noticed in our games, whenever Joel gets his feet set, he's pretty accurate," said Romar in his post-game press conference. "Tonight he got a lot of open looks and he knocked those down."

Washington also got an excellent first half of play out of junior Justin Dentmon, who scored seven points and kept the pressure on the 49'ers' overmatched interior defenders.

Freshman Venoy Overton did not fare as well, racking up five turnovers in the half and just two assists. The high-energy Seattle native did manage to force two steals but looked out of sorts, playing out of control trying to push the tempo.

"Sometimes he is too unselfish," said Romar regarding Venoy's 7 points, 6 assists, 6-turnover performance. "I would compare him to Nate Robinson in that sometimes when it seems like they are out of control, they are almost at their best. Tonight it didn't happen."

The 49ers also managed to match Dawgs' efforts under the hoop, grabbing 10 offensive rebounds in the period, while taking advantage of poor defensive rotations and an overall mediocre effort by the home team. The Dawgs closed out the half with a narrow 41-33 advantage.

The second half didn't start any better than the first half ended. LBS outscored UW 12-5 in the opening minutes of the half, cutting the deficit to a single point before Dentmon responded with a scorching 10-point surge. Again the 49'ers crawled back, blitzing the Washington zone with several perimeter jumpers to pull even, and again Dentmon answered with an open three and a pull up jumper as the Dawgs pulled away for the third and final time.

"I just felt like we weren't attacking the basket, so I tried to lead by example," explained Dentmon.

"Justin played an excellent offensive game for us," added Romar.

Washington eventually pulled away at the finish, the game ending 84-69, but, as is often the case, the game was much closer than the score might suggest.

"Dentmon was really the difference in the game," offered Coach Monson after watching his team get shredded by the Illinois native. "He just hit big shot after big shot."

Captain Jon Brockman had a quiet night tonight, taking just 10 shots from the field and scoring 13 points, while gathering nine rebounds in 36 minutes.

"We felt like we couldn't play them straight up," said the 49'ers' coach, taking a page out of Syracuse's playbook. "We told them we've got to take Brockman out of the game; I thought our guys did a pretty good job of that.

"I know how good Brockman is," Monson added. "It wasn't one of his better games, and hopefully we had something to do with that."

Aside from the overall lackadaisical play, another glaring statistic stood out on the evening. The Dawgs shot an abysmal 9 of 26 from the free throw line, their worst effort since nearly seven years ago at California.

"Man, I don't know what happened tonight," shared Dentmon sheepishly. "I think I was worried about my thumb and how the ball was coming out of my hands." According to Dentmon, his thumb on his non-shooting hand popped out of place Sunday during practice. It was heavily wrapped for the game, but the injury is minor. "Tonight everyone was missing free throws. I don't know what it was," he added.

"There is a god chance that in the next few days I'm going to have several messages from Shot Doctors and Psychiatrists saying I'm the guy who can help you out with you free throws," Romar added. "Sometimes when you are mentally drained or whatever it is, your free throws go. I just wonder if the long trip and the quick turnaround had something to do with it, but time will tell. Sometimes you may not be tired, but you can be mentally tired.

Whether it be fatigue, looking forward to the looming Oklahoma State game on Saturday, or simply overall poor play, the Dawgs got lucky tonight. Without Dentmon to pull his team out of the fire, Washington's losing streak would have been extended to three games. As it were, UW fans can only hope that this little blip on the radar isn't indicative of what's to come Saturday in Stillwater, Ok. Top Stories