Nov. 24, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) - Smiling and showered, Justin Dentmon held a whole, wrapped, untouched pumpkin pie outside the Washington locker room.
That was far from his only post-holiday treat Friday night.
Dentmon showed even more sweetness on the floor with a career-high 23 points - 19 in the second half - to rescue No. 16 Washington from a 12-point deficit to beat Eastern Washington 90-83.
"I just said, 'It's time for me to click on,"' the sophomore point guard said.
Eastern Washington coach Mike Burns was far more effusive.
"I thought Justin Dentmon was fabulous in the second half tonight," Burns said. "We just didn't have an answer for him."
Freshman Quincy Pondexter added 15 points and classmate Spencer Hawes scored 14 for Washington (5-0). Fellow freshman Adrian Oliver had 14 points - including the shot of the game - plus nine rebounds, five assists and key defense in the second half.
The Huskies needed all that to again escape their first nonconference home loss since December 2003 against Gonzaga. They had trailed by 13 early against another Big Sky Conference team, Sacramento State, before coming back to win in their previous game.
"At this point, any game could be close for us," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said of the youngest team he's ever led.
Rodney Stuckey, the nation's leading returning scorer this season, scored 31 points on 11-for-25 shooting for the Eagles (2-3).
"I think he can play in the NBA right now," said Romar, a former Golden State Warriors guard. "I don't know what he can't do."
He can't score for nearly 9 minutes. That's what happened Friday, until just 50.4 seconds remained and the game was essentially over. Oliver replaced Pondexter as Stuckey's main defender and hounded him relentlessly into 0-for-6 shooting during that decisive span.
Oliver drew two charging fouls from Stuckey, who spent most of the final 10 minutes shuttling in and out because of foul trouble. Romar hinted Oliver's twist of Stuckey's hot night may have earned him a spot in the starting lineup
"I just outworked him," said Oliver, who averaged 25.5 points per game last season at Modesto, Calif., Christian High School.
"I know how scorers think. I knew he wanted to be aggressive. I tried to take charges. After the second one (his third foul with 16:10 left and the score tied), he got frustrated."
Eastern Washington is 1-11 against ranked teams. Its last win against one came in November 2001 against then-No. 10 St. Joseph's. The Eagles are 0-9 since - including 0-3 at Washington.
Eastern's victories this season have come against NAIA schools. Yet the Eagles led 47-35 late in the first half behind Stuckey's 21 points in the opening period. And they still led, 70-65, with 7:45 left on a 3-point basket by Omar Krayem, who finished with 18 points before fouling out.
Krayem then grabbed his jersey front to display his team name to the stunned sellout crowd.
But the slashing Dentmon scored 11 points over the next 7 minutes - including two free throws that put Washington up 86-79 with 55.5 seconds to go.
Oliver's first spark came during the Huskies' 12-0 run that answered Eastern Washington's 23-17 lead midway through the first half. He had a 3-point basket, drew a charging foul on Stuckey and forced a steal that Pondexter converted into a spinning jumper and 29-23 Washington edge.
But the Eagles scored 21 of the game's next 25 points. When Stuckey punctuated eight consecutive points with a whirling, flipped-in layup while getting fouled with 3 minutes left in the half, Eastern led 47-35.
Romar called his team's effort to that point, "Activity without achievement."
Washington then achieved the final 11 points of the half - the final three on Oliver's running, one-handed 3-point toss from about 40 feet out at the halftime buzzer. The Huskies jubilantly ran off the floor to the roars of its home crowd, which sensed correctly that the Eagles' upset bid was beginning to turn.
Eastern sensed it, too.
"That really hurt us," Stuckey said. "They hit that half-court shot, which was crazy. We came out kind of ragged (in the second half)."