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Saturday, December 25, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW Men's Basketball

Huskies roll again

Seattle Times staff reporter

It was intense. It was entertaining. It was, as Washington men's basketball coach Lorenzo Romar said of the Huskies' 110-63 victory yesterday over Houston, "one of our better performances throughout the entire game, on both ends of the floor."

However, Houston coach Tom Penders didn't perceive the 12th-ranked Huskies' rout in nearly the same fashion. In fact, by his definition, it wasn't even a basketball game.

"The game was not called within the rules," said Penders, the outspoken veteran coach in his first season with Houston. "We had absolutely no chance to win that game. They (officials) didn't want a basketball game today. They never allowed one to start. That was a wrestling match.

"I think if we played on a neutral floor or in our building, we would beat this team. I would feel good about playing them anywhere but here with those three guys," he added. "Where are we, in some foreign country or what?"

Penders' most pointed criticism was directed toward Charlie Range, the most veteran of the three-man referee team that included Milt Stowe and Tom Spitznagel. Penders said the referees allowed hand checking, forearm checks and arm bars from the opening tip.

"Our ballhandlers could not get into their game -- they were pushed to the floor," Penders said. "I would encourage our kids to play the same way if we had three guys who were going to ignore it, too.

"That was a disgrace. The officiating was a disgrace. I used to like Charlie, but he cheated our kids today. He cheated the game of basketball today. We didn't get embarrassed by Washington. We got embarrassed by three guys in striped shirts. Five-on-five is one thing; five-on-eight is another."

Unfortunately for the Huskies, Penders' tirade -- valid or otherwise -- sent the message that their victory was tainted, that the 47-point difference would have been impossible without the tacit cooperation of predisposed officials. Romar, told of Penders' comments, would not be drawn into it, saying, "That's his thing."

The fact that the Cougars (8-4) made just one of their first 10 shots might have had more to do with their loss. They didn't score until the 13:07 mark of the first half. The Huskies' defense, ball sharing (14 assists on their first 14 baskets) and aggressive rebounding (48-31 edge) just might have played a larger role than the three guys with whistles.

"That was one of the best starts we had defensively," said UW guard Bobby Jones, who had a career- and game-high 22 points and nine rebounds. "We were locked in. ... We had them frustrated, so we knew that (physical game) was going to happen. They couldn't get a bucket. That's human nature; you get frustrated and that leads to flagrant fouls, getting them out of their character. That's what we wanted to do."

The Cougars had a lot of moves and motion, but little translated to points. As their frustrations mounted, they were called for two intentional fouls and numerous hard fouls underneath that the Huskies converted into three-point plays. Penders, who admitted he wanted to get tossed to defend his players, was whistled for one technical by Range midway through the second half.

"I told him I heard he was e-mailing the Pac-10 to get (coordinator of men's basketball officiating) Lou Campanelli's job," Penders said. "I said a lot worse than that but that's what he gave me the technical for. I guess the truth hurts."

The Huskies led 82-45 at the time and went on to their second straight 100-point effort (they beat Sacred Heart 114-53 on Wednesday). The 224 points were the most ever for the team in back-to-back games and only the second time it reached the century mark in successive games.

The 10-1 Huskies have the best nonconference win percentage (.909) since the 1953 team also went 10-1. That also was the school's only Final Four team. And their 13-game home win streak is the longest since a 14-game stretch from Feb. 12, 1998, to Feb. 6, 1999. Their last home loss was Jan. 10 against UCLA.

"Defensively, I thought our guys were as good as we've ever been, and then we really shared the ball and made shots," Romar said. "What a great game by our guys today."

The Huskies' early leads of 9-0, 11-5 and 29-9 allowed the players to freestyle more than usual. The result was a series of crowd-pleasing plays:

* Tre Simmons made a blind, behind-the-head pass to Jones underneath with 8:29 left in the first half that he turned into a three-point play. Five seconds later, Jones stole the inbounds pass and fed it to Simmons, who made the basket and then was given two free throws after an intentional foul. That was good for seven points in five seconds.

* Jamaal Williams, who has 41 points on 19-of-24 shooting the past two games, scored a layin with 5:50 left after a nifty pass-and-weave combination down the floor with Nate Robinson and Simmons.

* Brandon Roy finished off a pretty fast-break with an ally-oop dunk from Will Conroy with 2:20 left. "That's a Garfield (High) thing, man," Conroy said. "He gave me a little (finger) up and I just threw it. He's going to go up there and catch it."

* Joel Smith, a freshman guard who loves dunking, had a jam of with 4:59 left in the game. He saw a gap along the left side, drove around one defender and slammed the ball in left-handed over another. "We're so competitive, we see that and we have to top that one," Roy said. "That is what coach sees on this team. He thinks, 'If I can get these guys competing in practice like that we can carry it over in a good way to the games.' "

* Roy had a thunderous dunk off an offensive rebound with 13:30 left that brought the loudest and longest ovation of the afternoon.

"People expected us to have a letdown after the N.C. State game (a 68-64 win Sunday)," Conroy said. "I don't know why we have to prove it all the time that it's not a one-time deal with us."

The Huskies next will play Friday, opening the Pac-10 season at home against California.

Bob Sherwin: 206-464-8286 or bsherwin@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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