Washington wears down Cardinal

LOS ANGELES - The target clearly on their backs, the Washington Huskies flipped the script and decided to write a similar ending, defeating Stanford 85-73 Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at the Staples Center. Jon Brockman led the Huskies with 20 points, while all of Isaiah Thomas' 14 points came in the second half.

Just as they did against the Cardinal in Palo Alto, Washington (25-7, 14-4 took a slim first-half lead and built upon it, using their bench and style of play to simply wear out their opponents, who defeated Oregon State 62-54 a day earlier in the first round of the tournament. But Anthony Goods was not about to let Stanford (18-13, 6-12) slip quietly into the night, scoring 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second half. Goods and freshman guard Jeremy Green scored all 22 Cardinal points in over a 12-minute stretch. Kenny Brown scored the last five for Stanford, but by that time the game was out of reach. Overall, Stanford missed 13 shots during that period of time, allowing Washington to go from a 54-48 lead with 13:27 left to 85-68 with 1:17 remaining in the game.

"Anytime you play against someone, if you can get them to take contested perimeter shots, you have a better chance to come out on top," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "They can really shoot the three ball and obviously when they are hitting them they are really hard to deal with. We did a pretty good job for the most part of contesting those threes."

"I thought it was an incredible game," added first-year Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins. "Washington is a really, really good team. They played extremely well, especially in the second half. I'm proud of my kids. We competed the entire night and they were the better team tonight. Give them credit.

The Cardinal finished a lowly 8-28 from long-range, while regressing from 38 to 33 percent when it came to field goal shooting. The Huskies, meanwhile, reversed their first-half shooting woes, going from 35 percent to nearly 61 percent overall.

The key to the Huskies' win came on the defensive end, where they were able to put pressure on the Cardinal perimeter and force them into contested looks or into poor passes. Offensively they were able to take better advantage of the ensuing scramble in the second half, outscoring Stanford 10-0 in fast break opportunities. Washington used their bench to their advantage.

"We played a very fast, athletic team today," Dawkins said. "Of course I think the wear and tear of that type of game can take its toll on you. but through it all our guys competed. They gave the best effort they could give."

But once the Cardinal starting chucking it from the cheap seats, Washington knew they had broken through. Stanford shot 13 of their 28 attempts from deep in the last 8:34 of the game. "I was shocked, because they are more of a structured team," said UW senior guard Justin Dentmon, who scored 10 points and brought down six rebounds for the Huskies. "When they tried to get in transition, that's where we wanted them. They were going to run out of gas."

The Huskies looked to have a hard time getting the car out of the garage the first half, struggling to put down shots they would normally not have any trouble with. They were buoyed late by three 3-point shots, courtesy of freshman guard Elston Turner.

"I thought it was a great momentum-builder for us going into the second half," Romar said of Turner's points. Elston is capable of coming in and hitting five or six."

Meanwhile, Thomas and junior guard Quincy Pondexter, who normally account for 27 points per game, were shut out completely. "I just thought, for whatever reason he was just a little tentative in the first half," Romar said of Pondexter's play. "He has been doing really well for us. He helped us get a championship and we thought right off the bat we would go to him (in the second half) and get him involved."

Pondexter did, scoring 11 second-half points. And Thomas, the Pac-10 Freshman Player of the Year, came up big with an array of moves inside and kept his turnovers reasonable. The run of play kept things a bit on the sloppier side, as Washington turned the ball over 21 times on the day, but the Huskies were able to use the frenzied pace to force tempo when their sets weren't necessarily bearing fruit.

"This group has been fantastic at keeping their focus," Romar said. Our seniors like Jon (Brockman) are constantly in guys' ears talking about defense and not letting down. They have been there before where they have been let down in the past and they know the ramifications of let downs."

The Huskies move on to the semifinals Friday, where they play Arizona State at approximately 6:10 p.m. PST."
Points: Brockman 20, Thomas 14, Pondexter 11, Dentmon 10, Turner 9, Overton 8, Bryan-Amaning 5, Holiday 4, Gant 2, Suggs 2
Rebounds: Thomas 9, Brockman 8, Dentmon 6, Overton 6, Bryan-Amaning 6, Pondexter 5, TEAM 4, Holiday 3, Gant 1
Assists: Pondexter 3, Dentmon 2, Brockman 1, Gant 1, Thomas 1, Bryan-Amaning 1, Holiday 1
Steals: Dentmon 3, Brockman 2, Gant 2, Overton 2, Bryan-Amaning 2, Holiday 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 3

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