March 11, 2004
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Will Conroy scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half when Washington rallied to beat UCLA 91-83 in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament Thursday night.
The second-seeded Huskies (18-10) have won 13 of their last 15 games, including an upset of then-No. 1 Stanford last Saturday that ended the Cardinal's 26-game winning streak.
Beating UCLA likely boosted Washington's hopes of making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999. The Huskies will play either Arizona or Southern California in Friday night's semifinals.
Washington has turned around its season since starting Pac-10 play with an 0-5 record. The Huskies finished second in the conference for the first time since 1986. It was the first victory over UCLA in five tries for coach Lorenzo Romar, a former Bruin assistant.
The Bruins (11-17) were the only team to beat Washington twice this season. They nearly did it a third time, leading by eight points three times in the second half after being up 11 points in the first 20 minutes.
Instead, UCLA completed consecutive losing seasons for the first time in 62 years under first-year coach Ben Howland. The Bruins started 5-0 in conference play, then went 2-14 the rest of the way.
Brian Morrison, who missed most of the season because of hamstring and ankle injuries, led the Bruins with 23 points, including five 3-pointers. He scored their final eight points, and made a 3-pointer that got UCLA to 85-83 with 27 seconds left.
But then he fouled out, Dijon Thompson missed a 3-pointer and the Huskies put the game away on free throws. Trevor Ariza and T.J. Cummings, playing his final college game, added 12 points each.
After the Bruins' last eight-point lead, Washington outscored them 13-5 to tie the game at 78 with 3:44 remaining. The Huskies made 7-of-9 free throws and hit three field goals in the spurt.
Morrison made two free throws for UCLA's last lead at 80-78. Conroy made two free throws and Simmons completed a three-point play for an 83-80 lead. Hakeem Rollins made two big blocks in the final 33 seconds that helped derail the Bruins.