Huskies keep title hopes alive

SEATTLE - Thursday night's game against Arizona State was the second time the Washington Huskies were forced into overtime in league play this year. This time they made it count, taking the Sun Devils 73-70. The win put Washington (21-7, 12-4) just one more victory away from clinching at least a tie for the Pac-10 conference crown, the first time that has happened since 1985.

Two more wins to finish out the season and the Huskies can claim an outright title for the first time in over 55 years. Arizona State (21-6, 10-5) is now in a three-way tie for third with California, who beat USC Thursday, and UCLA, who defeated Stanford.

The Huskies came out fast and fed off the crowd's energy to jump out to an early 24-12 lead with 9:55 left in the first half. Arizona State slowly cut the lead down to one point going into half time.

When the jumpers stopped falling for the Huskies it became increasingly more difficult for the them to score against the tough zone of the Sun Devils. Overall Washington was 23-60 from the field (38.3 percent) for the game. One thing that did show through despite the shooting struggles was the teams heart and will to win.

"We've had some teams that have had a lot of heart. I think our hearts have gotten bigger and bigger as the years progress. What our guys did tonight, in a poor shooting night, I thought was very, very special" said head coach Lorenzo Romar after the game.

In the second half the Huskies again came out quick and tried to take control of the game. The Huskies pushed the lead to eight points with 12 minutes left and looked to have things in hand. But behind James Harden and his 19 points the Sun Devils were able to slowly cheap away.

With 5:50 left the Sun Devils took their first lead of the game on a Jeff Pendegraph jumper. Arizona State pushed that lead to five but Justin Dentmon was able to score seven points in the last 3:44. Again it looked like the Huskies had the game in the bag.

With Dentmon living up to his nickname of "Captain Clutch" the game was theirs to win with his hands on the ball and only 12 seconds left to play with a 2-point lead. The senior guard lost possession at his own end when a crossover went awry and Harden was able to steal the ball and send the game into overtime. His dunk was one of only two buckets the sophomore from Artesia, Calif. had the entire second half.

With first place on the line the Huskies knew they had to bring it in overtime and that is exactly what they did. After a defensive stop to open the overtime Washington took the lead and refused to give it up. ASU's chances slowly chipped away as Harden and Pendegraph fouled out. Those two accounted for 43 of Arizona State's 70 points.

Dentmon tasted a little bit of redemption in the overtime, hitting an important free throw to give the Huskies a three-point lead with three seconds left to play. Brockman also played like a senior, contributing 21 points and 11 rebounds - his 56th career double-double. Quincy Pondexter had 10 points and 12 boards, his fourth career double-double.

The win over Arizona State now puts the Huskies in the driver seat to win the Pac-10 championship, but they aren't forgetting they still have work to do at home.

"It's so close we can taste it" Pondexter said. "But you know the next two games aren't going to easy at all. Washington State is a tremendous team. They're well coached and they play really hard. Arizona is one of the hottest teams in America, we can't slouch right now. We just have to come ready and prepared and get ready for Saturday."
Statistics:
Points: Brockman 21, Dentmon 16, Thomas 11, Pondexter 10, Overton 6, Bryan-Amaning 6, Holiday 2, Gant 1
Rebounds: Pondexter 12, Brockman 11, Gant 4, Bryan-Amaning 4, Thomas 3, Dentmon 3, Holiday 2, Overton 1, Turner 1
Assists: Dentmon 4, Holiday 3, Thomas 2, Turner 2, Overton 1
Steals: Holiday 3, Overton 2, Pondexter 1, Brockman 1, Thomas 1, Dentmon 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 2, Pondexter 1


Dawgman.com Top Stories