Basketball | Fast-paced game puts UW men in gear
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Washington Huskies were back in their comfort zone, at home and free to roam.
This wasn't Washington State's Friel Court, with three hands seemingly in the Huskies' faces wherever they turned. It wasn't UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, with its intimidating talent and banners. It wasn't USC's Galen Center, with its tepid atmosphere.
This was Oregon. Its frenetic pace, backed by the frenzied Edmundson Pavilion crowd of 9,628, made a welcome combination that put some life into the Huskies' season with a 78-70 Pac-10 men's basketball win.
"This was a big win so we could get our season on track," said UW guard Venoy Overton after the Huskies improved to 10-7 overall and 1-3 in Pac-10 play. "We knew we had a home game and this was an important game, so we brung it tonight."
After the 0-3 start in Pac-10, the Huskies felt the situation was urgent enough that they held a players-only team meeting Tuesday.
"I think that just helped us see what players thought about each other," Overton said. "Just to get out all of your feelings and get out everything, that helped us, I think. Basically we knew that if we wanted to have a successful season we had to change this around."
It was Washington's seventh consecutive home win over Oregon, dating to Feb. 17, 2001. That's Washington's longest home unbeaten streak against any conference opponent.
Of the game's pace, Huskies guard Tim Morris said, "It was definitely more fun. And it might suit us a little bit. You just have to concentrate so, so hard when you are playing Washington State because every possession counts. Here, you know you are going to get another couple possessions."
Most refreshed was senior guard Ryan Appleby, who hit 5 of 10 three-pointers and scored 19 after going scoreless in two games in Los Angeles last weekend.
Appleby's final three-pointer came with 1:13 left and put the Huskies up by six, all but clinching what might be Washington's biggest win.
"The way Oregon plays, I knew I was going to get some open looks in the fast break," Appleby said.
Indeed, Appleby had eight points before the game was six minutes old as the two teams forged a tie at 17.
That early pace was even a bit too much for Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar, who implored his team to take a little more care of the ball.
But with the Ducks worrying about Appleby, the Huskies were able to get the ball inside to Brockman, who scored a team-high 21 points as Oregon defended him man-to-man — instead of double teams, as most previous opponents had done.
Brockman said Appleby did a good job of "stretching" out the Oregon defense.
The Huskies led 44-39 at halftime, the most points Washington had scored in a first half since getting 45 against Eastern Washington on Nov. 18; Brockman had 13 of those 44.
The Huskies never again trailed, taking their biggest lead at 64-54 with 6:09 remaining.
The Ducks mounted their most serious comeback with a pair of three-pointers by Malik Hairston and Maarty Leunen, followed by a three-point play by Leunen that cut Washington's lead to 68-65 with 3:18 remaining. The Ducks hit 12 of 32 three-pointers for the game, the most against the Huskies this season. Leunen hit 4 of 4 and finished with a game-high 22 points.
It was still a three-point game when Appleby hit his fifth three-pointer with 1:15 left on a nifty pass from Overton, who leaped and threw cross-court to Appleby.
"Not many players can make that play," said Romar of Overton's pass. "That was a great, great play."
It was a particularly painful loss for three Oregon seniors, including Leunen and Hairston, who had set a goal of making sure to leave Seattle with at least one win.
"It's something we talked about in the summer," Leunen said. "Over the years, we've had our revenge games. We knew we hadn't won here, and we wanted to try to get it done. It's unfortunate we couldn't."
The Huskies, meanwhile, hope it's the beginning of the road to postseason contention.
They were heartened that they committed just 11 turnovers despite the often breakneck pace, and held the Ducks to 41 percent shooting, their second-lowest percentage of the season.
"It's only one win," Appleby warned. "We can't be satisfied."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
|Washington's Ryan Appleby scored 19 Thursday after totaling six points in his first three Pac-10 games:|
|Opponent||Result||2-pt FG||3-pt FG||PTS|
|Washington St.||L 56-52||0-2||2-6||6|
|at UCLA||L 69-55||0-1||0-1||0|
|at USC||L 66-51||0-0||0-5||0|
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