Feb. 12, 2009
It certainly wasn't easy against pesky Oregon State. And only because of Dentmon's shooting were the Huskies finally able to shake the Beavers.
Dentmon matched his career-high with seven 3-pointers and scored 28 points, and Washington pulled away in the second half for a 79-60 win over the Beavers on Thursday night, taking over first place in the Pac-10.
The Huskies took advantage of UCLA's loss at Arizona State and now control their fate: win the final six conference games _ four of which are at home _ and add another Pac-10 regular season title to the school resume.
Washington (18-6, 9-3 Pac-10) now leads UCLA by a half game in the conference standings with a showdown between the two schools set for next Thursday in Los Angeles. Fortunately for Washington, Dentmon's performance and another solid effort off the bench from Venoy Overton staved off the Beavers.
Calvin Haynes led Oregon State (10-13, 4-8) with 15 points, but the Beavers dropped their third game in a row following a four-game winning streak. Seth Tarver added 14 points, but was held to just two in the second half.
Dentmon hit 8 of 11 shots, his only misses coming from behind the 3-point line, and added seven assists and three rebounds.
The Beavers' methodical tempo, aggressive zone defense and Princeton-style offense of backdoor cuts worried Romar all week. Simulating the Beavers' unique style is difficult in practice, especially for a Washington squad that would rather play a completely opposite way.
For a half, the Beavers accomplished their goal. They flustered Washington into careless turnovers and at one point forced the Huskies to miss 14 of 15 shots.
The second half wasn't quite as successful for OSU.
"We had to do something different, based on what happened last time, and it was working and then we got out of our game plan, which is: impose our will offensively," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. "We started taking some bad shots and throwing the ball away."
Dentmon's fifth 3-pointer, with 14:33 left, pushed Washington's lead to nine points. Overton finally broke the Beavers' scoring on consecutive drives to the rim to give the Huskies a 55-42 lead with 9:48 left. OSU got within nine on a few occasions, but Isaiah Thomas' four-point play _ layup and two free throws after an intentional foul _ gave the Huskies a 15-point lead.
Dentmon then capped his night with his seventh 3 with 3:18 left, tying the best performance of his career, set earlier this year against Arizona. Quincy Pondexter chipped in with 11 points _ his ninth conference game scoring in double figures _ and Overton had nine points, six assists and five rebounds for the Huskies.
"It took us a while, because we were really looking for a home run play," Dentmon said. "We were trying to make one pass and hopefully get a shot up, when we should have just moved the ball and looked for cracks in their defense."
Romar was at his animated best on Thursday night. He encouraged his players and barked at officials all night, even throwing in a full pirouette at one point in the second half on a questionable call.
The Huskies needed Romar's energy from the bench after they were lulled into a slowdown game by the Beavers' unique zone defense. Washington's offense stammered in the first half and OSU built a 29-22 lead on Josh Tarver's basket with 4:53 left in the half.
Then the Huskies took off, thanks to Dentmon. His 3-pointer got Washington started on a quick 12-2 spurt, highlighted by Pondexter's lob dunk and capped by another Dentmon 3 for a 34-31 Washington lead. The Huskies led 36-35 at halftime, despite 10 turnovers. Washington had a total of 11 turnovers during the first meeting in Corvallis. Washington committed just four turnovers in the second half.
"Everybody is so complimentary of this team that it's so much better than last year, yada yada," Robinson said. "I appreciate that, but we've got to get those guys in there understanding that we're trying to do more than just have a moral victory."