The Huskies path to the Pac-10 title game -- maybe even the NCAA tournament -- started with tonight with Oregon State. And closing out another win against the Beavers turned out to be a dauntingly difficult task with UW coming from 11 points down to grind out a 59-52 win at Staples Center.
“Their game plan you could see was to pack it in, make us shoot from the outside,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They hardly went with their 1-3-1, just pack it in, and make us shoot it over the top. We hit a couple early and it was fool’s gold, and it took us a half to recover from that. Then we started to move the ball.”
After a few minutes of even sparring, Oregon State opened daylight with a 11-1 run to get their lead into double-digits midway through the first half.
That tossed the Huskies into a desperate game of catch-up.
Part of the problem was Washington’s difficulty in adapting to Oregon State’s shift from its traditional 1-3-1 defense into something more like a fluid, shifting 2-3.
The Huskies trailed 31-22 at halftime, slipped behind by 11 early in the second half, and then began the long climb back.
Washington finally drew even, 37-all, about 12 minutes from the end when Isaiah Thomas drilled a 3-pointer.
Then they nosed ahead, 40-37, with a follow-up trey from Elston Turner about a minute later. Then they opened a little daylight, 44-37, when Thomas drilled another. Quincy Pondexter built on that with an old-fashioned three – scoring on a put back, being fouled and hitting the shot – to increase the lead to 46-39.
Meanwhile, the Huskies were putting the clamps on OSU on the opposite end. The Beavers scored only 10 points over the first 13 minutes of the second half.
Oregon State stabilized in time for one last run, and pulled to within two points down the stretch.However, Washington held on, with a tip-in by Turner seeming to seal the deal in the final minute
Thomas led the Huskies with 15 points. Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Turner had 10 each, and Quincy Pondexter added nine.
“I told my teammates our shots are going to fall,” Thomas said. “We just had to stay confident.”Oregon State (14-16 overall, 8-10 Pac-10) was led by Roeland Schaftenaar with 17 points – including a 3-pointer that pulled the Beavers back to within three in the final seconds. And Jared Cunningham had 15 before fouling out with 35 second left.
Friday, the Huskies (21-9, 11-7) head on to the semifinals, facing Stanford at 8:40 p.m. today. The game will be shown on FSN.
During the regular season, Washington defeated the Cardinal 94-61 in Seattle and 78-61 at Stanford.The winner of this one will play for the tournament title at 3 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the 6 p.m. Friday semifinal game between No. 5 UCLA and No. 1 California.
UW survives, 59-52. I'll be back
9:21/2nd: Washington finally drew even, 37-all, about 12 minutes from the end when Isaiah Thomas drilled a 3-pointer. Then they nosed ahead, 40-37, with a follow-up trey from Elston Turner about a minute later. Then they drew a little daylight, 44-37, when Thomas drilled another.
Halftime: Oregon State leads, 31-22. Quincy Pondexter has one point. Isaiah Thomas leads UW with five.
OSU's Jared Cunningham has a game-high nine. Roeland Schaftenaar has eight.
Washington is shooting 38.1 percent, OSU 45.5 percent. The Beavers are also leading on the boards, 15-13.
8:48/1st: Beavers up, 21-11.
11:28/1st: Beavers up, 16-11.
Pregame: Huskies and Beavers have tipped off. (The game is on FSN.) UW in white, OSU in black.
UW going with its usual starting lineup: Thomas, Gaddy, Pondexter, MBA and Holiday.
(You may notice that Thomas is wearing a kind of glove on his left hand ... at least in the early going. He has a hand bruise and is hoping that the glove will help. If not, he plans to take it off and play through the injury.)
The late start and very tight deadlines are likely to limit the amount of blogging I'll be able to do, but I'll pop back in with in-game updates and postgame notes and quotes and comments.
UW swept the Beavers during the regular season: 65-60 in Seattle on Dec. 31, 82-70 in Corvallis on Saturday.
Winner advances to the quarterfinal at 8:40 Friday, meeting Stanford for the right to go on to the Pac-10 tournament championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday.