Both teams are now 1-1.
And not surprisingly, the roller-coaster nature of the game -- Huskies fast start, second half swoon and late fast finish -- was the main topic after the game.
"I thought we definitely made progress tonight – not only from the Portland (loss on Saturday), but from the Western Washington exhibition," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We guarded in the first half very well, and I thought we played as a team with energy. I thought we shared the ball. I thought we were very efficient. In the second half, we came out flat. It's just something we have got to be able to solve, coming out in the second half and maintaining the intensity we had in the first half."
"You get a 22 point-lead, you get real comfortable and you think it's going to be the same as the first half way," senior Jon Brockman said. "We were victims of that, and we can't let that happen. When we play against Kansas, we're not going to get a second chance like that."
Jon Brockman had 23 points and 13 rebounds, both game highs. Quincy Pondexter contributed to the big first half with 13 points, though he added only two in the second. Justin Holiday provided defense, energy and a career-high 11 rebounds. Joe Wolfinger had 12 points and five rebounds, and he hit a late three-pointer that was a dagger to any remaining CSU hopes.
Guard Cedric Jackson led the Vikings with 20 points.
"I think this Washington team plays defense really hard, and that is one of their strengths," CSU coach Gary Waters said. "The big guy (Brockman) is a man amongst boys."
The game turned for the last time on a 5-point play 10 minutes from the end. With the lead down to five, freshman Isaiah Thomas nailed a three-pointer from the corner. As the ball sailed toward the hoop, Brockman was fouled. He went to the line adding two free throws that made it a five-point play and bought the Huskies a little breathing room at 63-53.
"I have confidence in my shot," Thomas said. "I was open, and I shot it."
The Huskies return to action at 7 p.m. Thursday, hosting Florida International the second game of this CBE regional. Regardless of the result of that game, these evolving Huskies will advance to Kansas City, Mo., where they hope to put their Tuesday survival experience to use against the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks in a semifinal game Monday.