It's an inside job for Huskies men
Seattle Times staff reporter
For a half at Edmundson Pavilion on Tuesday night, it looked like Portland State and Washington had opted to blow off the basketball game and just stage a three-point shooting contest.
It was vastly entertaining, but much of it was fool's gold. The Huskies had the complement to the distance wizardry in Jon Brockman, and they used him to the fullest in an 84-65 victory over the Vikings.
Brockman had 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting to go with 12 rebounds. While he took care of the heavy lifting, Ryan Appleby gunned in 7 of 11 on three-point attempts, tying a school record for makes, and Washington had what materialized as a decisive win against a club that should be good for a high finish in the Big Sky Conference.
"I'm proud of our guys," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar, who faced his ex-assistant in PSU's Ken Bone. "That's a good basketball team. They played Washington State down to the last couple of minutes."
Indeed, the Huskies had a wider win against the Vikings than the Cougars did — WSU's 12-point victory Dec. 9 was closer than it looked. But Romar was less into comparison than he was pleased with the notion that the veteran lineup he started again played better defense when it had to and shared the ball.
"We had more possessions, defensively, where we did a good job," he said.
For a long while, he might have gotten an argument from the assembled 8,989 that there was any defense in the building. With 15 minutes left, Washington led 57-53, at which point PSU was shooting 64.5 percent and the UW 66.7.
While Appleby was putting on his distance clinic, he was being matched — one-upped, for a while — by PSU's stumpy guards, 5-foot-8 Mickey Polis and 5-6 starter Jeremiah Dominguez.
Polis rattled the Huskies' cage for 16 first-half points, hitting five three-pointers and a free throw in a blinding span of six minutes, 19 seconds.
"It was one of those feelings when anything you threw up went in," said Polis, a Longview and Lower Columbia College product.
It just about did. PSU downed 11 of its first 15 three-point attempts. Led by Appleby, the Huskies hit 7 of their 9 in the first half, which ended with Washington up 43-37.
Right then, the place was buzzing about the shooting, but the Huskies were talking about getting the ball down low.
"Jon was 5 of 6 in the first half," Romar noted. "We felt, if we got the ball to him, he'd have a pretty good chance of doing something with it."
So it was. The Huskies scored 14 points before the first TV timeout of the second half, 10 in the paint, as they attacked where the Vikings had no answer. That further opened the perimeter for Appleby.
Appleby's three with 11:40 left opened a 66-55 UW lead, and the Huskies (6-4) never led by fewer than nine the rest of the way. Appleby also had a big contribution defensively, chasing Dominguez and Polis more closely after the break — though Polis played only eight minutes in the second half after his early fusillade.
"Jeremiah is our best ball-handler," Bone explained, "and against their pressure, we needed Jeremiah in there. We can't play both of them at the same time."
Some striking numbers emerged. Washington had a 34-14 rebounding edge, and the opponent rebound total was the lowest UW sports-information staff could find in the last quarter-century. And the Huskies' 61.8 shooting percentage was their best since they hit 67 percent against Arizona State in February 1999.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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