"We played against a club that was certainly experienced," said Coach Lorenzo Romar. "I give them a lot of credit."
This was not the way Romar wanted to start out his Husky coaching career. After splitting two exhibition games, Romar and the Huskies have started the regular season on a negative note.
"Despite of losing today, I thought we made an improvement from our exhibition games. There were a lot of positives to look at."
One of the positives is the team's defensive play. The Huskies forced 19 turnovers and held the Bobcats to just 36.4% shooting from the floor.
MSU was led in scoring by the backcourt combo of point guard Jason Erickson and pure-shooter Pete Conway. Each scored 14.
It was a well-played final 10 minutes that proved to be the difference for the visiting Bobcats.
"Our team will be able to control the tempo as we mature," Romar said.
Washington appeared to have momentum and the game in hand after rattling off eight points in a row midway through the second half to take a seven point lead at 41-34. Two three pointers from Curtis Allen and a steal and lay-in by Will Conroy made it possible.
MSU head coach Mick Durham called for a timeout to stop the run, and the tactic worked to perfection.
Calvin Ento squirmed in for a rebound and laid it in on the Bobcats' next possession. That got the ball rolling, and the tides turning. A three pointer from Conway on their next possession made it a two point game at 41-39. Two more buckets capped a nine-point run, gave the Bobcats the lead, and made it a fight to the finish in the final 10 minutes of play.
The Huskies hung tough, but poor shooting prevented the team from ever taking control of the game again.
In the final minute, Erickson came down the court being swarmed by Conroy. Nevertheless, he kept his composure, crossed over his dribble, and pulled up for an in-your-face 14-footer to give MSU a 5 point lead.
UW wouldn't go down easy, though. A lay-in and free throw after a foul by the Huskies freshman swingman Bobby Jones drew the home team to within two at 52-50.
A quick foul by Allen on Erickson sent the confident Bobcat point guard to the line. Neither the pressure or the trash-talking by UW's Conroy and Jones could stop him. He nailed both to make it a four-point, two-possession game.
Washington called a timeout to draw up a play. It worked beautifully as Jeffrey Day popped wide-open at the right baseline for three. His high-arcing shot just beyond the outstretched arms of a defender reached nothing but the bottom of the net to make it a 53-54 contest.
Erickson went back to the line after getting fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass. There, he again calmly converted both shots.
Washington missed at the other end, and fouled Reynolds, who got the rebound. The Bobcats then had a chance to put the game away at the free throw line when Washington-native Casey Reynolds went to the charity stripe for two shots with just under six seconds remaining. Both missed, giving the UW one last shot at tying the game.
The Huskies again suffered a horrid night of shooting from the field, finishing at 33 percent. The team's leading scorer from a season ago, Doug Wrenn, had trouble converting from anywhere on the court for the third consecutive game. He finished just 3-15.
Day and Allen didn't fare much better, each going 3-13.
"We got people who can shoot the ball," said Allen. "They just aren't draining them right now." Allen was especially hard on himself for all the missed opportunities and for missing the potential game tying shot.
Day was the only Husky to finish in double-digits, scoring 10 points. Allen and freshman Anthony Washington, who played well despite foul trouble, each added eight.
Wrenn scored just six.
Mr. Rootbeer: They say that Barq's has bite, but today A&W had a soft, buttery touch. A&W as in Anthony Washington, that is. Washington, who figured to be more of a defensive presence than anything on the offensive end of the court, displayed soft hands and a nice jump-hook that brought back visions of Boston's Kevin McHale in the 1980's. He didn't get the benefit of a couple foul calls and had to sit much of the game on the Husky bench because of foul trouble, but while on the court he was a difference-maker this afternoon.
Still in Pullman? It looks like the fans are going to have to see wins before filling the building. Or maybe they're still dancing at midfield in Martin Stadium… Only 4,835 spectators graced Hec Edmundson Pavilion this afternoon, and a good portion were Montana State fans.
Super Nate: It's a bird, it's a plane, no – it's Nate Robinson. Nate-Rob suited for the Huskies wearing the No. 2, just a day after making a key interception for the Washington football team playing cornerback in the Apple Cup.
Ready and Waiting: Brandon Roy, the all-everything swingman from Garfield high school who signed with the Huskies but is still awaiting word on his SAT results in order to join the team, attended the game. He sat near mid-court and had a good view of the action.
Hec Ed Homecoming: Four players on MSU's roster are from the state of Washington: Calvin Ento (Vashon Island), Marcus Clift (Spokane), Josh Barsh (Puyallup), and Casey Reynolds (Belfair).
Bobcats nip Husky men
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