Beaver men lull Huskies to sleep, win snoozer

There was a men's college basketball game at Hec Edmunson Pavilion Thursday night. Problem is, somebody forgot to tell the Washington Huskies, who played as if it were still a mid-December preseason game, falling 80-72 to Oregon State in front of a home crowd of 6,469.

The win for the Beavers was the seventh in the last eight games in the OSU-UW series, and the fourth in a row for the visitors from Corvallis in Seattle.

Earlier in the week, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar categorized Thursday's game as a "must-win," noting that his team had to be victorious to reach their late-season goal of a sixth place finish in the Pacific-10.

After the game, Romar appeared dumbfounded of his team's woes on both ends of the court, not knowing exactly where to place the blame.

"It was a weird game for us tonight. I don't quite know how to explain what happened," he said. "They made big plays when they had to, but we couldn't overcome ourselves tonight.

"It was a game where when we break down the tape of the game, I think we'll see that we made more mental mistakes than we have made since preseason way back in the middle of December."

The Huskies (8-15, 3-11 Pac-10) dropped their fifth consecutive game, but strangely did so while only committing six turnovers for the contest. That tied a team record, set most recently Feb. 6, 1993 versus USC. Oregon State, by comparison, turned the ball over 17 times.

Romar made sure to emphasize that after the game, stating it wasn't physical mistakes his team found itself making, rather mental ones.

Case in point, the final 20 seconds of the first half: Washington held possession and stood passing the ball around waiting to take the final shot. But Doug Wrenn inexplicably threw a shot up with five seconds left. Oregon State rebounded the miss, and called timeout to set up a play for their final possession.

The Husky blunders didn't stop, however, as Will Conroy and Nate Robinson collided to foul Chris Stephens on a three-point shot with one second left in the half on OSU's last-ditch effort. Stephens cashed in by hitting all three.

Asked whether losing close overtime games last week hurt more than this one against OSU, Romar had a quick response.

"When you lose knowing you didn't play right, that's worse," the UW coach said.

OSU (12-10, 5-8) took a two point lead to half after Stephens' free throws all swished through the net, then opened the second half by scoring the first four points to break out to a 41-35 lead.

Washington trimmed that margin back down to one with five consecutive points from Robinson, but the Husky momentum would be short lived.

The Beavers used their methodical offense to get the Huskies out of their run-and-gun style of play, and slowly worked up the lead as the second half went on.

After a Jeffrey Day free throw drew the Huskies to 45-47, the Beavers promptly answered with a 10-3 run on four points apiece from JS Nash and David Lucas.

Ahead 57-48, the Beavers never allowed the lethargic UW team to creep closer than four the rest of the way.

"This is a huge step back for what we are trying to build," said junior Husky guard, Curtis Allen. "This is a huge loss for us."

Six Beavers finished in double-digit scoring on a night when they shot a season-high 55.1 percent from the field. Nash led the way with 15. Lucas and Philip Ricci each added 14, while Brian Jackson cashed in with 13 and Lamar Hurd 10.

Ricci and Lucas, two strong and physical forwards on OSU's squad, presented matchup problems for the young Huskies all night long. Romar shifted his rotation continuously, switching Day and Mike Jensen in and out of the lineup for one another. Neither of the youthful Huskies found any success against the two Beaver forwards.

Romar said after the game that he thought it was Ricci, more than anyone else, who presented the biggest problems as far as matchups go.

Allen agreed with his coach.

"They had some big guys who could go down there in the post," he said.

Washington was led by the 17 points of sophomore point guard Will Conroy, who finished 7-15 from the field. Robinson had 15, three coming on a last second field goal with the game already in hand. Wrenn, who shot just 4-12, added 10.

Now alone in ninth place in the conference after UCLA's one-point overtime win against California Thursday night, Romar knows it's going to be difficult to get back in the Pac-10 Tournament picture this late in the season.

"It is going to be tough to finish seventh (in the conference) and the stakes are higher," he said. "There is not much margin for error."

Game Notes:
Up Next: Washington takes on Oregon for in their home finale on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. The game against the rival Ducks will be telecast by Fox Sports Net. Washington then hits the road for its final three games against Washington State, USC, and UCLA.

Familiar Faces: Former Sonics Jerome Kersey and Maurice Lucas attended the UW-OSU game together. Lucas' son, David, is a six-foot-seven sophomore on the Beavers. He scored 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds in 19 minutes.

More Familiar Faces: The Woodinville Connection - Marques Tuiasosopo and Pat Conniff - attended the game together and sat on upper-east side of the court.

Where Are They Now: Grant Leep, a four-year letterman at the UW who graduated last season, now spends his days as an assistant coach at Seattle Community College. The S.C.C. Storm knocked off Olympic College last night in Bremerton, but appear to be out of the playoff picture in the NWAACC.

Playing Clean: Neither team attempted a free throw in the first half until the 2:54 mark, when Marlon Shelton of the Huskies knocked down a pair.

Calling All Rebounders: Washington was outrebounded tonight 38-24, and the final statistics were even uglier when the closer you looked at the individual stats. Wrenn led the team with five, and Conroy was second with just three. As for the big guys, Jensen and Day? They combined for one - from Jensen - in a total of 41 minutes of play.

Husky Stats:
Points: Conroy 17, Robinson 15, Wrenn 10, Day 9, Jensen 7, Allen 6, Jones 2, Massingale 2, Roy 2, Shelton 2

Rebounds: Wrenn 5, Conroy 3, Jones 2, Robinson 2, Roy 2, Jensen 1, Massingale 1, Shelton 1

Assists: Robinson 5, Conroy 3, Jones 1, Wrenn 1, Jensen 1, Allen 1

Steals: Wrenn 2, Jensen 1

Blocks: Jones 1 Top Stories