Washington coach Lorenzo Romar considers Southern California the toughest team in the Pacific-10 Conference for his Huskies to match up against.
He got some unwanted additional evidence Thursday, as the Trojans held on for a 67-64 win at sold out Hec Edmundson Pavilion. With that result, USC became the second team to win on the Huskies’ home court this season, and the first team to sweep its league series against Washington.
In the early going, UW flashed the kind of domination that has become common at home games, jumping to an 8-2 lead.
But USC steadied itself and surged into the lead with a 19-5 run. Doing most of the damage was guard Dwight Lewis, who ended the night with a game-high 22 points.
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In the second half, the Trojans’ lead crept up to 16 points. And that is an unusually steep hill for the trailing team because USC leads the Pac-10 and is fourth nationally in scoring defense.
It proved just beyond the Huskies’ grasp, as a late run brought Washington to within a single point with about 80 seconds left and the home crowd roaring. But that was as far as they could go.Quincy Pondexter led UW with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Matthew Bryan-Amaing added 14 points and seven rebounds.
The loss dropped Washington to 17-9 overall and 7-7 in the Pac-10, virtually assuring that their only remaining patch to the NCAA tournament is through the automatic berth that goes with winning the Pac-10 tournament next month in Los Angeles. USC (16-9, 8-5) will not participate in either tournament as a self-imposed punishment for recruiting irregularities reported earlier this season.
The Huskies conclude their home season Saturday, when UCLA visits. “College Gameday” will visit Hec Ed at 8 a.m., and the 6 p.m. game will be shown as ESPN’s Saturday prime-time game of the week.
5:09/2nd: Elston Tuner and Quincy Pondexter have sunk back-to-back 3-pointers and the crowd is roaring as UW has cut USC's lead to five: 56-51.
11:39/2nd: SC up, 46-36. Ten points is a lot against the top scoring-defense team in the Pac-10 and fourth-best nationally.
Start of second half: USC's 32-24 lead to start the half continues an interesting streak for the Trojans: USC has been even or ahead during the second half of all 13 of it's Pac-10 games so far.
Halftime: SC up, 32-24. Dwight Lewis is the difference for now, with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. UW also has nine turnovers.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning leads the Huskies with six points and is 3-for-3 from the field. He also leads UW with five rebounds. Thomas and Pondexter have five points each.
UW shooting .385 from the field, USC .433.
3:47/1st: UW came out strong, but a 19-5 USC run has put the Trojans ahead, 26-19.
Tipoff: No surprises among the UW starters: Thomas, Gaddy, MBA, Q-Pon and Holiday.
40 minutes to tip: Both teams are on the court warming up, Huskies in white, Trojans in crimson.
Obviously, if the Huskies have any remaining chance at an NCAA tournament bid -- outside of winning the Pac-10 tournament -- they can't afford a home loss to a 15-9 team. So that should give them some extra incentive over the Trojans, who have no postseason possibilities at all, no matter what they do.
Plus, there's the whole venue issue: UW 16-1 at home, USC 1-6 on its opponent's home court.
Normal gameday blogging planned here: Pregame news as it happens, lineups, in-game updates and postgame notes, quotes and comments.
Tip is 7:30 on FSN.