Huskies lose Pilots' license

PORTLAND - Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar knew the danger of opening the 2008-09 season on the road against a veteran Univercity of Portland squad, and his worst fears were realized as the Pilots silenced the Huskies 80-74 at the Chiles Center Saturday night.

Plagued by sloppiness and foul trouble, the Huskies committed 23 turnovers and 26 personal fouls, virtually dooming themselves out of the gate and wasting captain Jon Brockman's 30-point, 14-rebound performance. Indeed, it was the Huskies inability to find Brockman during the game's first 10 minutes that would ultimately be their undoing.

The Pilots (1-0) came out of the gates with a vengeance, opening up a 26-14 lead midway through the first half, behind the red-hot shooting of Nik Riavio, who finished the half with 13 points. Overall Raivio had 19 points and seven rebounds. Washington (0-1) was mired in foul trouble, collecting 16 fouls in the half and landing every starter save senior Justin Dentmon in early foul trouble. The Huskies also struggled to hang onto the ball, coughing up 11 turnovers in the half, 23 for the game and were particularly brutal driving the lane.

"We wanted to avoid beating ourselves and we just didn't do a good job of taking of taking care of the basketball," explained a disappointed Romar. "We had too many breakdowns, too many fouls and we probably didn't play as disciplined as we should have.

"You can't go on the road and turn the ball over 23 times and expect a favorable outcome," he added.

Washington's first half luck finally changed behind a furious charge led by Brockman, who didn't score his first bucket until midway through the half, but he made up for it quickly. The bruising senior relentlessly attacked the basket, at one point canning 10 straight points, while going 6-7 from the free throw line. He ended the half with 16 points and eight rebounds.

With freshman Isaiah Thomas (10 points and three turnovers in 15 minutes) on the bench saddled with foul trouble most of the game, Brockman and Dentmon were the only UW players able to muster any offense, and the half ended with the Pilots leading 37-34.

Portland came out of the second half white hot from outside, behind the shooting of Robin Smeulders (who led the Pilots with 20 points and six rebounds) and Riavio, as they raced to a 10-point advantage before Husky freshman Elston Turner and Thomas brought the lead back to just three, but his fourth foul sent Thomas back to the bench moments later.

The Huskies, smelling blood, ratcheted up their defensive intensity against the Pilots. They were also unable to prevent Brockman from attacking the hoop, and the Dawgs took their first lead of the game at the 9-minute mark of the second half.

But Portland wasn't finished, despite the best efforts of Brockman who helped the Huskies take their final lead with 3:27 left in the game. The Huskies' advantage was short-lived though, as Ethan Neidmermeyer's fourth three-pointer of the game moments later pushed the Pilots ahead for good.

Unfortunately for Washington, free throw shooting again reared it's ugly head in the closing minutes. They managed to shoot just 19 of 32 from the line on the night.

With 58 seconds left in the game and the Pilots ahead five, the game's intensity took a turn for the worse as a loose ball and subsequent entanglement resulted in a shoving match, earning technical fouls for both Smeulders and Brockman.

Despite the furious final minute, the game ended in unspectacular fashion for the Huskies, as the Pilots salted the game away at the free throw line.

For Washington, they got exactly the game they were expecting and despite the Huskies' significant athletic advantage, Portland played a much better game.

"We knew this might happen, but I'm not second guessing myself at all for scheduling this game," said Romar.

"We'll be better prepared as a result of it."

The Huskies come back to Seattle and play Cleveland State Tuesday and Florida International Thursday in the first round of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic. Top Stories