Feb. 26, 2009
"It felt like it was a fight ... a 12-round fight," Dentmon said. "And we won by decision."
Overcoming his own gaffe that let Arizona State force overtime, Dentmon scored six of his 16 points in overtime, and the 21st-ranked Huskies kept control of the Pac-10 race with a wild 73-70 victory over the 14th-ranked Sun Devils on Thursday night.
Bruising forward Jon Brockman led Washington with 21 points and scored on the first two possessions of the extra session as the Huskies took control and managed - somehow - to retain hold on the conference lead.
Now instead of finding themselves in a logjam with the Sun Devils, UCLA and California, the Huskies (21-7, 12-4) are 1½ games clear with only two league games remaining, both at home. Washington needs wins over Arizona and Washington State to wrap up its first outright conference title since 1953.
"That's the Pac-10 this year, very competitive," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Jeff Pendergraph led Arizona State (21-6, 10-5) with 24 points and 13 rebounds, and James Harden added 19 points, but was held to just four after halftime. Harden fouled out early in the overtime, as the Sun Devils saw their five-game win streak snapped.
"We played our butts off, it just didn't come out the way we wanted it to," Harden said.
Thanks largely to Dentmon's ability to rebound from the most costly of mistakes at the end of regulation.
With Washington holding a 61-59 lead and having just forced Harden to miss a difficult runner with 21 seconds left, Dentmon momentarily became lax standing just a few feet from the Sun Devils' basket. Harden took advantage, stripping Dentmon and throwing down a two-handed dunk to tie the game.
Then in the final seconds Dentmon froze and was unable to get a shot off before regulation ended. All that after a horrific shooting performance from the Huskies' leading scorer that was made only slightly tolerable because of two huge baskets by Dentmon in the last 2 minutes.
"Anyone would have put their head down and been out of it for the rest of the game after that turnover," Brockman said. "(Justin) came back and won the game for us."
But Dentmon came through by hitting six of eight free throws in overtime to go with Brockman's two key baskets to start the extra session as the Huskies took advantage of Pendergraph playing with four fouls.
Harden, who played the final 9 minutes of regulation with four fouls, finally picked up his fifth and the Sun Devils were unable to overcome the early overtime deficit.
Now the Sun Devils need some help from their rival, Arizona, if they want to keep hope alive for their first Pac-10 title. The Wildcats play at Washington on Saturday.
"It's going to hurt us tonight definitely, but tomorrow is a new day and we'll prepare for Washington State," Harden said.
Arizona State crawled back from a 13-point first-half deficit and took its first lead since 2-0 on Pendergraph's one-hander on the baseline that made it 53-52 with 5:50 left. The basket capped an 11-2 spurt for the Sun Devils after Washington had the ball with a chance to push its lead to double digits only a few minutes earlier.
Rihards Kuksiks added a 3-pointer less than a minute later and suddenly the Sun Devils were up by four. After Brockman scored for Washington, Kuksiks hit another open 3 from the baseline and ASU's lead was 59-54.
But Dentmon, who made just two of his first 11 shots, hit an open 3-pointer from the wing with 1:53 left to draw Washington even at 59-all. He then hit an off-balance runner as the shot clock expired to give the Huskies a two-point lead with 45 seconds left.
Harden missed again with 23 seconds left, before his steal and dunk forced overtime.
"We've had some teams that have had a lot of heart. I think our hearts have gotten bigger and bigger as the years progress," Romar said. "What our guys did tonight, in a poor shooting night, I thought was very, very special."
Dentmon's free throw put Washington up 68-63 with 1:34 left in overtime. Jamelle McMillan quickly scored and Kuksiks followed with a basket with 28 seconds left to get the Sun Devils within one.
Dentmon then hit two more free throws with 24 seconds left and Derek Glasser missed ASU's last chance at a tie when his 3-pointer with 20 seconds left went long. Venoy Overton hit two free throws for Washington which became crucial when Glasser threw in an off-balance 3 with 4.2 seconds left.