Washington loses close one at Stanford

Lorenzo Romar (Dawgman.com)

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Washington threw everything it had at No. 8 Stanford Thursday night at Maples Pavilion, but the Cardinal held on for an 82-79 win. Stanford sophomore center Brook Lopez led all scorers with 21 points.

The Huskies made sure Lopez would have to work for every point, however, throwing more double teams at the 7-footer than in the teams' first meeting in Seattle, which Stanford won easily, 65-51.

"We tried to keep him off balance a little more," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. "We tried to be more sound in terms of execution."

While Washington's strategy didn't stop Lopez, who came into the game averaging 18.8 points per game, it did slow him down just enough to keep the Huskies in the game until the final second. Literally.

The Huskies appeared to be all but out of it when point guard Mitch Johnson, a Seattle product, went to the free throw line for two shots with Stanford ahead 80-76 and only 7.5 seconds left in the game. But after Johnson's second free throw missed, the Huskies raced down the floor and Ryan Appleby swished home a 22-foot 3-pointer. That made it an 81-79 game with 1.5 seconds remaining.

Washington immediately fouled senior forward Taj Finger on the inbounds play, and Finger went to the line with 1.0 seconds left. He missed the first free throw, then connected on the second to make it a three-point game. The Huskies, however, couldn't repeat the magic Stanford had two years ago, managing only an awkward half-court heave by Appleby that landed well short of the rim.

"If we had a couple more seconds we could have got the win," said a hoarse Quincy Pondexter after the game. "It just sucks that we put ourselves in this position. We kept playing and kept scrapping and we were a few possessions away from winning."

Stanford improved to 23-4 and 12-3 in the conference, winning its third-straight game.

The Huskies had their chances throughout the second half, at one point pulling to within 60-59 following a reverse layin by Brockman. But Stanford never relinquished the lead. In fact, the Cardinal put a quick halt to Washington's momentum by rattling off six unanswered points and pulling ahead 66-59 with 5:04 remaining.

While the Huskies kept scoring until the final horn so did the Cardinal, as Johnson and Brook Lopez combined to hit 8-of-10 free throws the rest of the way.

Jon Brockman led Washington (15-14, 6-10 Pac-10) with 20 points, adding 14 rebounds, while Pondexter played well off the bench and chipped in 19. Justin Dentmon and Joe Wolfinger each had 12.

Despite the loss, Washington's 15th in a row at Maples Pavilion, Romar remained positive after the game.

"I was pleased with how our guys played," he said. "We were 7-16 from the free throw line and didn't get to a couple loose balls. Aside from that I was happy with our effort. Our guys did a good job of going to the basket strong and making plays."

Brockman agreed with his coach's sentiments.

"As much as it stinks losing, if we could have played this well in a couple games where we didn't have the energy we needed, our record would be a lot better."

The Huskies didn't start the game well, though, falling behind 13-3 in the opening minutes as Cardinal guards Anthony Goods and Johnson combined for three 3-pointers in the first five minutes.

"They were beating us to loose balls and doing a lot of little things," said Pondexter.

Needing a spark, Romar inserted Pondexter into the game and the sophomore from Fresno did just that, filling up the scoreboard for three quick baskets to help draw the Huskies to within 17-9. A steal by Bryan Matthew-Amaning on the ensuing possession left the freshman in the open court and he made Stanford pay, dribbling the length of the hardwood for a tough running layin over a Cardinal defender.

Minutes later, another layin by Matthew-Amaning made it a 25-19 game. But as quickly as the Huskies pulled close, the Cardinal responded. Goods nailed a 3-pointer, his third of the first half, over the outstretched arms of Appleby to extend the home team's lead back out to nine.

Brook Lopez scored the Cardinal's final nine points of the first half, but a 3-pointer by Dentmon drew the Huskies to within 41-34 as the teams headed to the locker rooms. Pondexter led the Huskies with nine points before halftime, while Brockman added eight.


NOTES:

Morris Booed: The Stanford student body, which calls itself the Sixth Man, remembers Husky guard Tim Morris, and they greeted him with jeers in his return to Maples Pavilion. Morris played with the Cardinal for three years before transferring to UW prior to last season. Did he hear the boos? "Who wouldn't," he admitted. But the fifth-year senior did manage to have some glory, stealing the ball at midcourt in the second half and throwing down a breakaway dunk. "I wanted to make sure I made it, but I've been feeling good lately so I wanted to get up." They were Morris' only points of the game in 18 minutes.

Maples Drought Continues: The Huskies have lost their last 15 visits to Maples Pavilion. Their last win at Stanford came on Jan. 30, 1993 in coach Lynn Nance's final season. Neither Bob Bender nor Lorenzo Romar have won on the Cardinal's homecourt.

"15 times," said Brockman after the game, referring to the streak. "It's a tough place to play. Close ones like that hurt pretty bad."

Wolfinger Sighting: Joe Wolfinger entered the game early and played 18 key minutes for the Huskies, giving them both size inside against the Lopez twins, Robin and Brook, and strong perimeter shooting. Wolfinger, a third-year sophomore, tied a career-high with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers.

"Wolf did a tremendous job," said Romar. "A big body, and he also knocked some shots down. He can do that."

Up Next: Washington concludes its season with two road games. The Huskies finish up the Bay Area road trip at Cal on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. Washington then trips to Pullman for the regular season finale on March 8. Tip-off for that one is set for 4:30 p.m.


HUSKY STATS:

Points: Brockman 20, Pondexter 19, Wolfinger 12, Dentmon 12, Matthew-Amaning 6, Appleby 5, Wallace 2, Morris 2, Overton 1
Rebounds: Brockman 14, Pondexter 5, Morris 4, Dentmon 3, Wolfinger 2, Wallace 2, Appleby 1, Amaning 1
Assists: Pondexter 3, Appleby 3, Morris 2, Overton 2, Brockman 1, Dentmon 1
Steals: Pondexter 1, Overton 1, Morris 1, Bryan-Amaning 1
Blocks: Wolfinger 1, Bryan-Amaning 1

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