Huskies to play for the lead

SEATTLE - With Brandon Roy's jersey retired, the Washington Huskies went to work and came away with a 78-73 win over the USC Trojans Thursday night at Bank of America Arena. Justin Dentmon scored 22 and Isaiah Thomas scored 16 of his 17 points in the second half to pace the Huskies' effort, as they will now play for first place Saturday against UCLA.

With Oregon State's 69-65 win at California, Washington (14-4, 5-1) will host the Bruins for the outright lead in the Pac-10 conference.

Roy, the best player on a string of teams that went to two-straight Sweet 16's and earned a No. 1 seed in 2006, was honored just before gametime, and it seemed appropriate that the Huskies ended up winning the game the way Roy would have - with savvy, solid defense, an indomitable will and veins of ice when it mattered most.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored 12 points for the Huskies, while Quincy Pondexter chipped in 11. Senior forward Jon Brockman drew a blank from the field, but still mustered four points to go with his bread and butter - 13 rebounds. It was Brockman's lowest scoring total since playing at USC two years ago.

The Trojans were led by the 24 points of Daniel Hackett. Freshman forward Demar Derozan added 16 points, and Taj Gibson tallied 15 points and 13 rebounds. USC (12-6, 3-3) certainly missed their leading scorer, Dwight Lewis and his nearly 16 points per game average. He hurt his ankle earlier in the week and showed up in street clothes.

The emotion of the moment spilled out onto the court early as the Huskies tried to contain the league's most athletic team in USC. "Playing against this version of the Trojans' team is tough," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "They are tough defensively. Whenever they get the ball in any transition situation, I feel like I am in the Army wondering where the helicopters are coming from. They come from everywhere, they have so many weapons when they are in transition."

A packed house went through some huge early moodswings, such as when USC's Leonard Washington was hit with a technical foul for hanging on the rim for too long, to when Hackett hit a running 3-pointer from roughly 30 feet as time expired in the first half as the Huskies led by 1, 31-30.

The Trojans were plagued by foul trouble all night, and Washington made them pay - hitting 80 percent of their free throws (32-40). In total, the Huskies outscored USC by 19 at the stripe. Dentmon was perfect from the line in 11 tries and as a team UW was 16-20 the final six-and-a-half minutes of the game. They needed all those points, as Washington shot poorly from the field and were sloppy in transition.

"When you go out and turn the ball over 18 times, like we did, and you shoot 37 percent, like we did, and you still win - that is something I am very proud of in our guys. Granted, we were 32 of 40 from the foul line. If we don't make our fouls, the outcome probably is different. But we did. Our guys did a tremendous job of stepping up to the line and putting the ball in the basket and we were able to come out with a victory. Our guys really competed and battled. It was great to win this - to make Brandon Roy's day complete. and, to make our day complete. The crowd was the best it as been all year. Today the crowd was sensational, and that really helped us."

But Dentmon came up biggest of all when he buried a 3-pointer from in front of the UW bench with 9:53 left while Demar Derozan was nailed with his fourth foul. Dentmon's foul shot to complete the rare four-point play gave the Huskies a 53-44 lead. From that point going forward, Washington would extend its margin to 13 with one minute left to play. At that point the Huskies held on for dear life as USC buried four straight shots, including two 3-pointers.

"Say what you want, whatever you said in the past, Justin Dentmon is having a heck of a senior year," Romar said. "He stepped up big time for us tonight. That's what you count on seniors to do and he did it. Darnell Gant and Justin Holiday won't get a lot of recgonition but they were very good for us tonight defensively. They plyed great roles for us tonight."

Thomas rounded out UW's scoring with four foul shots to provide the Huskies their final margin.

"This might be the most physical team we play," Thomas said of USC. "It came down to who wanted it more and who was tougher. We, obviously, were tougher and wanted it more than they did. Coach just kept telling me to be patient and the shots will come. I just did that and my teammates did a great job of finding me."
Points: Dentmon 22, Thomas 17, Bryan-Amaning 12, Pondexter 11, Overton 6, Brockman 4, Holiday 4, Gant 2
Rebounds: Brockman 13, TEAM 5, Thomas 4, Dentmon 4, Bryan-Amaning 4, Pondexter 3, Gant 2, Holiday 1
Assists: Pondexter 5, Gant 2, Overton 2, Holiday 2, Brockman 1
Steals: Pondexter 2, Brockman 1, Dentmon 1, Bryan-Amaning 1, Holiday 1
Blocks: Top Stories