In the road losses at California and Stanford, Husky underclassmen had figured in two last-minute plays that didn't go the purple way. Thursday night the young pups didn't seem quite so green against the green-and-white-garbed Ducks. Freshmen Justin Dentmon and Jon Brockman came up with crucial plays in the final minutes as the Huskies dodged another bullet at the buzzer. Brockman's put-back after an Oregon swat, two of his 12 second-half points, gave the Dawgs a 72-70 lead with 42.8 seconds. Dentmon drew a charge call on the next possesion and hit three free throws in the final 26 seconds to clinch the 75-72 victory.
"Our guys stepped up down the stretch," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Jon Brockman was a beast in the second half. Justin Dentmon made some great plays down the stretch as far as making defensive stops and hitting some big free throws. It was nice to see our freshmen step up on the road like that."
The Huskies took an early 7-0 lead and led for the majority of the Pac-10 tilt as Jamaal Williams matched his average (14 points) and Ryan Appleby knocked down a trio of 3-pointers in the first half. But as the bench scoring slowed in the second half, the rebounding picked up. Washington carried the game on the boards with a 22-6 rebounding advantage after leading by a score of 40-37 at the break. The diligent Dawgs converted 19 offensive rebounds into 26 second-chance points, while the Ducks had 16 total rebounds for only two second-chance buckets.
After missing 5-of-6 3-point attempts in the first half, the Ducks took off as Chamberlain Oguchi and Malik Hairston were wingin' from every corner. The athletic duo drilled 5-of-9 treys to complement some nice drives and dimes as Oregon made a strong second half rally. After Brandon Roy scored on the offensive boards for a 52-44 lead with 14:32 remaining, the Ducks went on an 18-6 run over the next seven minutes to take their largest lead of the game, 63-58.
When the Huskies made a counter charge, Oregon began to lose its composure as Champ Oguchi picked up his third foul and Hairston his fourth. When Ivan Johnson, incensed at not drawing a charge call, drew a technical instead, Roy's subsequent free throws capped at 10-2 UW streak. Moments later Bobby Jones tracked down an errant 3-pointer—the UW missed all four attempts in the half—and got back a pass for a cutter and a 70-68 lead with 2:02 remaining in a quiet Pit. Even when Jones fouled out on the following possession, the less-than-capacity McArthur Court crowd was relatively subdued.
Following two free throws from Hairston, the Pit Crew got vocal, briefly, when Roy's baseline drive was rejected from the topside by a helping Oguchi. But Brockman was there for the carom and a layup that was as important as his last-minute dunk versus UCLA. Hairston, who finished with 18 points, put his head down and tried to drive on Dentmon, but the frosh got the rare road call in the clutch. Hairston's charge, his fifth personal, led to two free throws by the UW point guard for a 74-70 lead with 26 seconds left. Oregon's Aaron Brooks split the conservative Husky defense with an assist to Jordan Kent and Dentmon was sent to the line again. The littlest Dawg hit one of two to make it a three-point game with 10 seconds, setting up one last defensive stand—just like in the Stanford and UCLA cliffhangers.
This one again featured Roy's reach and a missed triple attempt as Maarty Leunen's shot skipped off safely for the Huskies. The quick defensive response by the UW on the final play disrupted the Duck plans enough to force an awkward shot and those on the north side of Columbia River could exhale.
"When we came out of the huddle, we tried to have many guys in there of the same height so that we could switch on whatever they did," Romar recounted. "We were going to switch ball-screens. We were going to switch pick-the-picker situations.
"You know it's interesting, all three of those three 3-point shots (at the buzzer), Brandon Roy has been the guy there contesting them—even the one against Stanford."
Roy and Oguchi, in the third start of his sophomore season, staged a bit of duel in the middle of the second-half as both led their teams with 21 points. While many of Roy's scores were on drives and short-range jumpers, the bulk of the Oguchi's were of the 20-25 foot variety. But after his hot time in tripletown, the Husky defense held him without a shot attempt in the final 10 minutes. Williams finished with 17 points and seven rebounds and Brockman posted 14 points—his highest output in a Pac-10 game—and seven rebounds as the Dawgs dominated inside. Jones contributed with seven points, five rebounds and number of crucial plays including the defensive end a couple of charge calls.
"Brandon picked his spots," said Romar, who wasn't happy with his team's defense on the whole. "He wasn't shooting it that well tonight. He was able to penetrate their zone, and that allowed our guys to get to the glass."
Hairston, Brooks and Oguchi were effective with the dribble penetration, which often ended with a dish to Johnson, the UO center who had 12 first-half points but was shutout in the second frame as Leunen saw more minutes. The perimeter trio combined for 11 assists as the Ducks shot 52 percent for the game (26-50). But the Huskies were able to overcome a handful of easy baskets with the 36-17 rebounding advantage against a Duck defense that wasn't able to keep the purple people off the boards. There were plenty of opportunities as the Malamutes missed 37 of 66 shots (44 percent shooting from the field).
"When they played that zone so much in the second half, there were a lot of holes in there for us to go out and get offensive rebounds and our guys did that," Romar said after picking up his sixth victory over Oregon in eight tries. "We didn't stand around. We attacked that glass and that's what you're supposed to do against a zone defense."
The victory gave Washington (19-5, 8-5) its fifth consecutive defeat of the Ducks, the longest streak since 1980-82. Combined with Cal's 75-66 defeat of Arizona, the win moved the Huskies into fourth place in the Pac-10, one game behind Stanford, which squelched the Sun Devils 82-69.
"We've been fortunate (to win consecutive close games)," said the newbie Brockman, who compared McArthur Court to something out of the movie, Hoosiers. "I think a lot of times we dig ourselves in a hole when we shouldn't even be there. But we were able to pick up some big defensive plays here tonight when it counted at the end and came out with a win."
The Huskies travel north for a Saturday night fight with the Beavers, who downed Washington State, 71-62. A victory in Corvallis would secure the UDub's first back-to-back 20-win seasons since 1984 and 1985 and give their RPI rating a jump from No. 39. And if the Huskies can win before the final shot, it could prevent the hearts of Husky fans from jumping into their collective throats at the buzzer. But if you like drama, these Dawgs are for you.