Huskies' balanced attack pays off

SEATTLE - Led by four players with 20-plus points each, the Washington Huskies took charge early and held off an Oregon second-half 3-point barrage to beat the Ducks 103-84 Saturday at Bank of America Arena.

With the win, the Huskies (19-6, 10-3) now lead UCLA by a game-and-a-half in the Pac-10 standings after the Bruins lost both games of their Arizona road trip. California has a chance to move into a tie for second later this afternoon if they beat Stanford, and Arizona State could move into second all alone if they win over USC Sunday night. The last time the Huskies scored 100 in Pac-10 play was in 2005, when they did it twice; once at Cal 106-73, and at home against Oregon State 108-68.

"We can come back next week, come back next Monday and we're in third or fourth place," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar cautioned after the game. "That's how this league is right now. Again, do we have focus? Are we going to practice right this week? Ar we going to pay attention to detail? That's all we can worry about."

Washington was led by the 24 points of freshman guard Isaiah Thomas, despite no attempts from beyond the 3-point line, the first time that's happened the entire season. Justin Dentmon continued his fine run of play with 21 points, and senior forward Jon Brockman tallied his 54th career double-double with 21 points and 18 rebounds, which currently leads the nation.

"I think it really shows we can attack from different areas and we have a lot of different guys who can put the ball in the hoop," Brockman said about the team scoring balance. "That's hard for teams to guard because if you're double-teaming someone, somebody else is wide open on the other side. It shows a lot of how this team, instead of doing the one-on-one thing, trying to take on the other team by yourself, we're passing it around. We'll pass up an open look to give someone else an even better look. It all pays off in the long run."

The Ducks (0-13, 6-19) were led by the 33 points of Tajuan Porter, 27 of those coming in the second half mostly by way of six 3-pointers. LeKendric Longmire added 16, Michael Dunigan 14 and Garrett Sim 11 for Oregon.

Despite Oregon scoring 59 second-half points, the game was never in doubt as UW countered with 54 of their own. They were able to get as close as 14 with left after Porter made two free throws, but the Huskies pushed their advantage back to 24 after an Artem Wallace free throw with 1:08 remaining in the game.

But it wasn't done without some fireworks by Porter. The 5-foot-6 junior from Detroit lit the Huskies up in the second half with some deep threes. At one point he accounted for four of seven Duck 3-bombs in a row, and made three free throws after being fouled attempting another trey. Oregon was 10-17 from deep during the final 20 minutes, but every time they made a shot the Huskies countered with points of their own.

Washington found themselves in the bonus with nearly 14 minutes left in the second half and made the Ducks pay from the free throw line, hitting 16 of 20 from there on out. Overall the Huskies shot .783 (36-46) from the stripe, the most freebies UW has shot so far this year. The number made ties their made free throws in an earlier win against UCLA.

"In the second half, I thought we let our guard down a little bit on the defensive end early, and we allowed them to get in a bit of a rhythm, and it allowed Tajuan Porter to really get going," Romar said. "The last four game we've played against Oregon, Tajuan hasn't hurt us. We were able to hold them at bay. But once they got an offensive rhythm, and he got going, man he went crazy."

"If we want to be champion, we can't play bad defense in the second half," Dentmon added. "We have to finish game out, just like a champion would."

Slow starts have been commonplace for Washington this season, but that was not the case Saturday. They held the Ducks scoreless until the 16:38 mark, when Dunigan made a layup. By that time it was 8-2. By the second television timeout the Huskies had extended their lead to 17-8, holding UO to only three made baskets, and by the third timeout they were up 27-16 after two Dentmon makes from the line.

The Huskies' defense held Oregon to their next two field goals nearly two minutes apart, and were able to extend their own run so by half they were up by a comfortable 24-point margin.

"I thought we played really good basketball in the first half," Romar said.

"Washington, I thought, was a very good basketball team," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent said. "They are in a great rhythm right now. I'm just proud of the way these guys hung in there. They didn't quit. They battled in the second half, made some shots and made some threes. (Porter) found his game and I was really impressed with that."
Statistics:
Points: Thomas 24, Brockman 21, Dentmon 21, Pondexter 20, Gant 4, Overton 4, Bryan-Amaning 4, Suggs 2, Wallace 1, Holiday 1, Turner 1
Rebounds: Brockman 18, Bryan-Amaning 6, Pondexter 4, Gant 3, Thomas 3, Dentmon 3, Wallace 2, Holiday 2, TEAM 2, Overton 1, Turner 1
Assists: Brockman 4, Thomas 4, Overton 3, Dentmon 2, Pondexter 1, Bryan-Amaning 1, Suggs 1, Wolfinger 1
Steals: Thomas 4, Dentmon 2, Pondexter 1, Bryan-Amaning 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 2, Thomas 1, Dentmon 1


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