Huskies fulfill a dream

SEATTLE - Lorenzo Romar said the rivalry didn't matter, and it didn't. Propelled by some gritty play down the stretch, the Washington Huskies defeated Washington State 67-60 Saturday at Bank of America Arena, securing their first outright championship since 1953. And they did it on Senior Day, where Artem Wallace, Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon finished off their college years in grand style.

An outright Pac-10 title has eluded Washington since the conference was formed in 1979, but no more. Two Marv Harshman-led teams tied for the top spot 1984 and 1985, and Lorenzo Romar's two Sweet-16 teams could only muster second place finishes.

But the 2008-2009 Huskies made history Saturday, and they did it the only way they know how; with tenacity on both ends of the court and a sense for rising to the occasion when it mattered most by using the collective strength of their team.

A championship was something Romar only thought about privately before the season, but Saturday night his vision became reality.

Washington (24-7, 14-4) was led by the 16 points of Quincy Pondexter. Venoy Overton and Isaiah Thomas, who had the job of slowing down Washington State senior guard Taylor Rochestie, combined for 20, while Rochestie led the Cougars (16-14, 8-10) with 23. Aron Baynes hit his fifth double-double this season with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Husky seniors stuck to their own winning formula; Brockman with his rebounding and Dentmon with his clutch scoring. Brockman, from Snohomish, Wash., did not come up with his patented double-double, but did wipe the glass with 18 rebounds, tying a career-high. Dentmon, with his mother and guardian coming all the way from Carbondale, Ill. to see him finish off his UW career, tallied 12 points, but hit a key 3-pointer with 15:31 left in the second half to give the Huskies their largest lead of the game, 39-31.

With 3:55 left and the Huskies clinging to a two-point lead, they didn't lean on their seniors. In fact, it was the junior, Pondexter, who hit a turnaround jumper and then scored on a layin after a feed from sophomore Overton. After WSU frosh Klay Thompson made two free throws, it was another freshman - Thomas - who came up huge with a running layin from the left side of the key to keep Washington's margin at six.

Brockman took a charge from Cougar forward Caleb Forrest on Washington State's next possession, and with time winding down the Cougars could only muster up a 3-point shot from reserve guard Nikola Koprivica from deep in their right corner. Dentmon rebounded the miss, and was fouled by Forrest.

The senior guard calmly stepped to the line and Dentmon, who was an .845 shooter from the stripe during league play, buried his two shots to put the game out of reach. After Koprivica missed the front end of a one-on-one opportunity, the other UW senior, Brockman, came out of the scramble with his 18th board. He pushed the ball to Overton, who was fouled with 26.4 seconds remaining.

Overton made one of two shots, and all that was left in the clean up with a couple of foul shots by Baynes to determine the final score.

In the ensuing chaos, Romar was presented with the Pac-10 trophy by UW Athletic Director Scott Woodward. As students spilled out from the stands and onto the floor, ladders were put up on both baskets and players and coaches to cut pieces of the hoop in celebration of their achievement.

Romar was the final person the climbed the ladder, and he cut the rest of the hoop away from the rim, giving the assembled crowd down on the court a look, a smile, and then he draped the hoop around his neck to a thunderous ovation. He then addressed the crowd, thanking them for their support, and then the seniors went back up the ladder, one by one, to give their thanks.
Points: Pondexter 16, Overton 14, Dentmon 12, Brockman 7, Thomas 6, Gant 6, Holiday 4, Bryan-Amaning 2
Rebounds: Brockman 18, Gant 6, Pondexter 4, TEAM 4, Thomas 2, Overton 2, Holiday 2, Dentmon 1, Turner 1
Assists: Thomas 2, Brockman 1, Overton 1, Turner 1
Steals: Dentmon 2, Holiday 2, Brockman 1, Overton 1, Bryan-Amaning 1
Blocks: Pondexter 1, Brockman 1, Overton 1, Bryan-Amaning 1 Top Stories