Isaiah Thomas (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - After seeing two higher seeds get knocked out of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament, the No. 3 seed Washington Huskies appeared to be next on the chopping block. But they overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat No. 6 Oregon State 59-52 Thursday night to advance to the semifinals, where they will play Stanford.
Down 31-22 at halftime, the Huskies (22-9, 11-7) immediately went to work in an attempt to erase 20 lackluster minutes of basketball.
"In this league, anybody can beat anybody on any given day," UW's Isaiah Thomas said, and after he swished a 3-pointer with 12:33 remaining, UW had drawn even at 37. An Elston Turner 3-bomb, followed by another Thomas long-range missle capped off a 12-0 run by Washington, giving them a 43-37 lead with 10:17 left in the game.
The Huskies would never relinquish the lead, but the Beavers - who had made a conscious effort to keep UW out of the paint all night - wouldn't go away quietly. Down 49-41 with seven minutes to go, OSU rattled off six-straight to narrow their margin to two points with 5:08 left. But Thomas came to the rescue again with another trey, and a Matthew Bryan-Amaning baby hook put the contest out of reach.
"It became clear that they were going to pack it in all night and make us shoot threes," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "They got in an offensive rhythm. We did a much better job in the second half of using the clock to move the ball."
Thomas led the charge with 15 points, followed by Bryan-Amaning and Turner, who had 10 each.
The Beavers' Roeland Schaftenaar - who led OSU with 17 points - buried a 3-point shot with 47 seconds left in the game, giving UW some room for pause. But two free throws by the Huskies Venoy Overton and a missed 3-pointer by Oregon State's Josh Tarver, and the game was over.
Freshman Jared Cunningham was the other Beaver to score in double figures with 15 points.
"We knew it was going to happen," OSU Head Coach Craig Robinson said. "All we talked about at half time was, 'they're going to make a run, they're going to make a run'. They're just a good team. They kept their cool and we were just hoping to hang on for a tad bit longer."
Points: Thomas 15, Bryan-Amaning 10, Turner 10, Pondexter 9, Overton 7, Holiday 5, Gaddy 3
Rebounds: Bryan-Amaning 6, Holiday 6, Overton 6, Pondexter 5, Thomas 4, Turner 3, Gaddy 2, Breshers 2
Assists: Holiday 2, Thomas 2, Gaddy 2, Overton 2, Pondexter 1
Steals: Holiday 2, Overton 2, Pondexter 1, Thomas 1, Gaddy 1, Breshers 1
Blocks: Pondexter 1, Bryan-Amaning 1, Holiday 1