Dawgs Don't Wilt in Crunch

SEATTLE - The Washington Huskies expected a difficult game against Oregon State, but they almost got more than they bargained for as it took until the final minute for the home team to finally put the Beavers away 83-74, moving to 11-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play.

Any win in the Pac-10 is a good win, and the Huskies got help from players young and old at a critical juncture to make sure this one didn't slip away.

"Oregon State for us has been one of those teams where we've had our struggles, and tonight was no different," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar explained during his press conference after the game. "I applaud our guys, in the midst of a game that felt like it was getting away from us at one point, for hanging in there, buckling down and doing what we needed to come up with the victory."

Marcel Jones gave Oregon State a five-point lead with two free throws with five minutes remaining before the Huskies came storming back with quick buckets by Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter (12 points) and Tim Morris (eight points, five rebounds)

The key defensive play of the game came moments later.

Venoy Overton's diving play on the perimeter as he out-hustled Josh Tarver for a loose ball resulted in a turnover by the Beavers who trailed by one. Brockman's layin off an assist from Pondexter put Washington up for good.

"That was huge," stated Brockman regarding the play. "If I had to pick a play of the game, that was the biggest play for us. That's something that gives us energy, lifts us up and gets us going. For a freshmen (in Overton), that was a huge play."

Overton scored just five points, but made his presence felt in other aspects, tallying seven assists and three steals for the game. But the Huskies relied on their captain to make a couple of strong plays late on both ends of the floor to put a lid on any hopes the Beavers had of stealing one on the road.

After a furious lay-in by Rickly Claitt, Brockman went to work. He drove through three Oregon State defenders and got hammered on the play for his efforts. The only problem for Oregon State is that he made his shot. He sunk his and-1 for the three point play. On the next OSU possession, Claitt again drove the lane, only this time Brockman was waiting. He stripped Claitt of the ball and hit a streaking Overton for a fast break lay-in to put the Huskies up by six with 1:21 left in the game. Brockman had 26 points to accompany his 14 rebounds - his 12th double-double of the year.

"Jon Brockman made some great plays the last four minutes of the game," said OSU head Coach Jay John afterwards. "We had some turnovers, and we put ourselves in a tough position."

With little more than a minute remaining, the game got a little bit out of control.

"I took a charge and (C.J.) Giles was up in the air to grab the rebound off a missed shot," explained Brockman. "He was about to fall on top of me, and I think I kicked my legs up so that he wouldn't fall on top of me. Maybe I did it too aggressively, I don't know. Tempers started flaring, but it's basketball, it happens."

A double technical later, plus a technical from Josh Tarver, put the game out of reach for the Beavers, as the Huskies put the game away winning by a final of 83-74.

"They were two teams fighting hard," mused Romar on the on-court fireworks. "One team with no victories saw a potential victory and they gave it all they had. Just guys getting after each other."

"Good ole hard, aggressive basketball."

Surprisingly, that was Brockman's first collegiate technical.

"That might be my first Technical," he chuckled. "I know I got one in High School for hanging on the rim, but I'm pretty sure that was my first here."

The fireworks at the end belied the general tone of game, as things started out slowly. The pace was dictated by the sound of whistles for the first 10 minutes of the game. Giles, a transfer from Kansas and former Rainier Beach star, managed to pick up two fouls in the first 49 seconds of the game and was quickly dismissed to the bench.

At about the 9:27 mark of the first half, the game finally broke lose, as Washington surged ahead to a 28-20 lead. UW's advantage quickly evaporated though, as the Huskies went cold from the field while OSU, a perfect 8-8 from the free throw stripe, fought back to within striking distance. The half closed with the Huskies leading 36-32.

The Beavers came out strong to begin the second half, grabbing a one point lead 5 minutes into the period, before Washington regained their footing. A Justin Dentmon spinning lay-in pushed the Huskies back in front and Jon Brockman's hard earned drop step spin gave Washington a three-point advantage with 12:20 left in the game.

The Beavers weren't ready to quit though, regaining the lead at the 9 minute mark. But the Huskies found an answer underneath the hoop in the form of freshman forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning. The Beavers had no answer for the rapidly improving Bryan-Amaning, who rattled off six quick points, pushing the Huskies back out in front.

"That was one of the things I felt they needed when I made my decision to come here," explained Bryan-Amaning, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes of work. "Obviously I wasn't doing that early in the season, but the coaches know what I can do, and every day I work with Coach (Paul) Fortier on it. Coach Romar just keeps saying be aggressive in the post. One of my struggles early on was making bad decisions and I got called for traveling as a result, but I feel I'm getting a lot better and it's getting a lot easier."

Coach Romar commented on Bryan-Amaning's improving play after the game. "He has slowed his game down and he is taking his time," said Romar. "Consequently, he isn't picking up the traveling turnovers that he picked up early in the year. He's just playing more calmly."

Brockman was also impressed with his freshmen teammates' progress. "Any time you get production from guys that the other team isn't expecting it's excellent and if you can get them to start doing that every night it just makes us that much better," he said.

Give OSU credit, though - the Beavers weren't finished. They answered right back with a post assault of their own, poking holes into a UW zone designed to try and make them shoot from outside. Ultimately Oregon State regained the lead with six minutes remaining when the Huskies' made their final comeback of the night.

The victorious Huskies must now turn their attention to the Arizona schools as they head South for games against the resurgent 14-2 Arizona State Sun Devils Thursday, then to Tucson Arizona against the Arizona Wildcats at noon Saturday.
Points: Brockman 26, Bryan-Amaning 12, Pondexter 12, Appleby 9, Dentmon 9, Morris 8, Overton 5, Wallace 2
Mintues: Brockman 35, Morris 30, Appleby 27, Overton 25, Dentmon 23, Pondexter 23, Bryan-Amaning 18, Smith 10, Wallace 9
Rebounds: Brockman 14, Bryan-Amaning 7, Morris 5, TEAM 5, Wallace 2, Dentmon 2, Pondexter 2, Overton 1, Appleby 1
Assists: Overton 7, Morris 4, Pondexter 3, Brockman 2, Smith 1, Dentmon 1
Steals: Overton 3, Pondexter 2, Brockman 1, Morris 1, Appleby 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 1

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