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Sunday, December 22, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sanford's 29 Points Carry Huskies, 80-77

Special To The Seattle Times

PORTLAND - Washington's Mark Sanford picked the right time to snap out of his scoring slump in a comeback victory over a scrappy University of Portland basketball team.

Sanford scored a season-high 29 points as Washington defeated Portland 80-77 in a nonconference game last night.

"I knew my offensive numbers were down but we were winning so it didn't bother me," said Sanford, who entered the game averaging 11 points per game for the Huskies (5-1). "I've spent a lot of time in the gym working on my jump shots and one-dribble pull-ups."

It paid off. Sanford, a 6-foot-9 junior, made two free throws with 1 minute, 25 seconds left to give the Huskies the lead for good, 75-74.

With 48 seconds left, Sanford gave Washington a 77-74 lead when he dunked off a lob pass from Donald Watts on a fast break. Sanford then fouled out with 30 seconds left.

"Sanford stepped up in the second half and made some big plays," Portland Coach Rob Chavez said. "He got a couple of baskets in transition, made a couple of shots and free throws. He's a very good player."

Reserve guard Jan Wooten made three free throws in the final 19 seconds to hold off the Pilots. Portland's Jimmie Rainwater, who played at Chief Sealth High School, missed a three-pointer just before the buzzer.

Portland (3-5), which lost its third straight game, led for most of the second half.

Jason Franklin made three three-pointers and center Greg Klosterman scored nine of his team-high 24 points to put the Pilots ahead 68-62 with 4:51 remaining.

Senior guard Jamie Booker made four straight free throws for Washington, and a basket and two free throws by Todd MacCulloch narrowed Portland's lead to two points.

Washington took the lead for the first time since early in the second half on Watts' three-pointer with 2:12 left that made it 73-72.

"You have to give Portland a tremendous amount of credit," Husky Coach Bob Bender said. "We had to fight and claw to get a win tonight that may go a long way in helping us understand ourselves. We had to go 40 minutes to win a game."

Washington was coming off a two-week break for final exams, but Sanford said it didn't hamper the Huskies.

"We had some hard practices so we kept our timing and our legs," he said. "I don't think the layoff played an effect on how we played."

It certainly didn't bother Sanford, who also tied a career high with 13 rebounds. Booker added a career-high 22 points.

"I think it gives me confidence," Sanford said. "I had a tough start. But I'm definitely coming into the rest of the games offensive-minded and hopefully these kind of nights will continue."

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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