March 11, 2010
LOS ANGELES (AP)--Isaiah Thomas scored 15 points and third-seeded Washington roared back from a big second-half deficit to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive with a 59-52 victory over Oregon State in the Pac-10 quarterfinals Thursday night.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Elston Turner added 10 points apiece for the Huskies (22-9), who trailed 35-23 with 16½ minutes to play before making a 23-4 run over the next eight minutes, playing with all the passion that this underachieving team lacked in the first half.
Washington will face Stanford in Friday's semifinals as the only non-California school left in the Pac-10 field. Regular-season champion California will face UCLA in the first game.
Roeland Schaftenaar had 17 points and Jared Cunningham added 15 as the sixth-seeded Beavers (14-17) lost twice to Washington in six days, following the Huskies' 82-70 win in Corvallis, Ore., last weekend. Washington has seven straight wins over Oregon State after beating the Beavers three times in a season for the first time since 1953.
Both teams' best offensive players struggled mightily in the Pac-10's fourth quarterfinal. Thomas led the Huskies in their second-half comeback despite 4-for-16 shooting, while regular-season scoring leader Quincy Pondexter had eight of his nine points in the second half, all during a mid-half burst before going scoreless in the final 8:53.
Calvin Haynes, Oregon State's leading scorer, managed just two points on 1-for-7 shooting, while Seth Tarver had just six points. Haynes also missed a free throw with 27 seconds to play, killing the Beavers' comeback hopes.
Washington began the season as a conference favorite, but struggled through a midseason lull before winning nine of 11 heading into the tournament. A win over seventh-seeded Stanford could put the Huskies in the best position to be the Pac-10's second NCAA selection -- although only a tournament title will get them in without a nervous Selection Sunday.
The Huskies were mostly lifeless until early in the second half, when they scored 14 points in just over four minutes to tie it. Pondexter got his first two field goals of the night during the run -- and Turner and Thomas then hit 3-pointers to put Washington up 43-37 with 10:12 left.
Oregon State got back within 49-47 before Thomas' 3-pointer with 4:41 left. Schaftenaar's 3-pointer cut the lead to four points with 43 seconds to play, but the Beavers didn't score again.
Though the Staples Center was largely empty for the last quarterfinal, Oregon State alum Gary Payton was in attendance, even posing for pictures with Huskies fans.
The game didn't tip off until 8:55 p.m., but Washington still showed up late: The Huskies went 8½ minutes between field goals while Oregon State built an early 10-point lead. The Beavers hit their first six 3-pointers and eventually went ahead by 13, but the Huskies trimmed the lead to 31-22 at halftime.