Huskies Reverse the Curse, Stymie FIU

SEATTLE - Washington took a play from the Cleveland State hoops manual and turned the tables on a poor first-half shooting effort that helped the Huskies beat Florida International 74-51 during the second game of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic at Bank of America Arena Thursday night. The Huskies are 2-0 in the tournament and face Kansas on Monday.

All phases of the game clicked for the Huskies (2-1) shortly after intermission. After a Husky timeout with 19:09 left in the game and FIU up 30-25, Justin Dentmon's quick five points catalyzed a run that saw UW outscore FIU 49-21 the rest of the way.

"Coach said we were playing like robots," Dentmon said. "I knew I had to go out there and get the ball moving."

The Huskies also flipped a 3/11 assist-to-turnover ratio in the first half, going 10/5 in the second stanza. "Our goal every game is to have less than 13 turnovers," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said.

"I thought that we played a better second half this game then we have in the previous games. Unfortunately we played a worse first half."

Dentmon scored a team-high 21 for the Huskies. "Justin Dentmon did a nice job; he got in the zone and stated making shots," Romar said. "That is a great thing for him."

Isaiah Thomas, held to eight points Tuesday against CSU coming off the bench, re-gained his starting spot and chipped in 19, 12 coming in the first half. Senior forward Jon Brockman added 8 points and 8 rebounds, the first time Brockman has been in single-digits scoring in 40 games (Oregon '07). Justin Holiday scored two points and hauled down seven rebounds while providing limitless energy, and Darnell Gant had five points and five rebounds to his credit.

Artem Wallace and freshman Scott Suggs saw their first time of the year in the purple and gold, combining for two points and two rebounds in 15 minutes. Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Tyreese Breshers were again held out while they recover from injury.

The Golden Panthers (2-1) were led by the 15 points of Russell Hicks and the 10 points of Freddy Asprilla. With Asprilla and Brockman banging in the paint all night long, it was up to Holiday and Joe Wolfinger to contain Hicks, who had his turnaround jumper on automatic. Yet Holiday, Gant and Wolfinger were able to severely limit Hicks' effectiveness by not allowing him touches that he could turn into points.

"Justin Holiday is a great energy guy coming off of the bench," Romar said of the sophomore from Los Angeles. "It was amazing how much a player can affect a game while only scoring two points. Holiday is a great complimentary player and he just has a skill to help us win games, which in my opinion is a great skill to have."

On the UW offensive end, FIU only went into a zone once in the first half, but played it almost exclusively in the second half. When they did that, the Huskies were able to use Brockman and Pondexter to funnel the action at the top of the key. Crisp passing inside led to layins or feeds back to the wings, who were nearly 50 percent from 3 (3-8), led by Dentmon.

As well as the Huskies played in the first half, it was the opposite in the opening stages. Just like Cleveland State had trouble getting off to a good start against Washington in the first game of the Classic on Tuesday, the Huskies could not find the bottom of the net early. They shot 22 percent (7-32) from the field, and 1-8 from 3-point territory.

Yet at half they were only down one, 26-25, due to the scrappy play of Thomas and their rebounding tenacity. Despite being at a bit of a size disadvantage (FIU had players that measured in at 7-feet, 6-10, 6-9 and 6-9 that played), the Huskies still managed to out-hustle the Golden Panthers on the boards 28-16.

Asprilla and Quincy Pondexter were involved in the most interesting play of the game. With FIU up 16-13 in the first half, the 6-10 Asprilla got tangled up with Washington's Pondexter at UW's end of the floor and Asprilla was called for a foul. As they were separating, it appeared Asprilla got the last push in, which earned him a technical foul. When that mess was being sorted out, FIU Head Coach Sergio Rouco was also called for a technical foul for voicing his displeasure.

Dentmon made the four technical shots to put UW ahead 17-16. At that point, Asprilla had three fouls, basically taking him out of the game for good.

"This was our most valuable pre-season game thus far," Romar said. "FIU was intent on not crashing for the offensive rebounds and instead getting back on defense and not allowing us any transition points. I thought that threw us off. In the second half we started to move the ball around and look for open shots; we stopped looking for the home run play."
Statistics:
Points: Dentmon 21, Thomas 19, Brockman 10, Gant 5, Turner 5, Pondexter 4, Overton 4, Wallace 2, Holiday 2, Wolfinger 2
Rebounds: Brockman 8, Holiday 7, TEAM 5, Gant 5, Overton 5, Pondexter 4, Thomas 4, Dentmon 4, Wallace 2, Turner 2
Assists: Thomas 3, Holiday 3, Brockman 2, Dentmon 2, Pondexter 1, Gant 1, Overton 1
Steals: Brockman 2, Pondexter 1, Thomas 1, Dentmon 1, Suggs 1
Blocks: Turner 1, Wolfinger 1

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