Jan. 25, 2007
By Benton Strong
It could be called redemption for Justin Dentmon.
When the Husky sophomore drove the lane for a reverse layup with 3:23 left to play he put Washington back up 10 points and capped off possibly the best night of his collegiate career. The sophomore notched a career-high 24 points and added seven assists and six rebounds for good measure in the Huskies' 89-77 win over No. 7 Oregon.
For Dentmon it was a key game in what has been an up-and-down season. He went from starting at the beginning of the season, to playing a season-low 14 minutes against Arizona. So many chances he has had in his career to close out a close game, but has come up short. It has been a steep decline for the point guard that had started all but one game of his career. Thursday night, however, was all sweet for Dentmon as he took his chance to start and made a statement to keep that spot.
"It was good to see Justin Dentmon play at such a high level," said head coach Lorenzo Romar. "You saw him coming up with rebounds and steals and those are the thing you are looking for in Justin Dentmon."
Dentmon brought intensity from the start, scoring five of Washington's first seven points, including a three-point play, as the Huskies rattled off seven points in the first minute.
With less than three minutes left in the first half he skied a lob pass to Phil Nelson who finished with a slam to put the Huskies up by double-digits. On the next trip he dropped off a pass to Spencer Hawes who put in a reverse layup, giving the Huskies their largest lead of the game at 12 points.
Two Dentmon free throws closed out a 15-point half for him and put the Huskies up by 11 at the break.
After Oregon started the second half on a 7-0 run Dentmon scored back-to-back driving layups, with the second coming off a clean steal at midcourt. Oregon cut the lead to one point with 10:40 left to play, but another fastbreak layup by Dentmon put the Huskies up three and Oregon would get no closer.
Dentmon's big game came right when Washington needed it as they were able to take what many considered a "must-win" game against the Ducks.
"The smiles on the faces in that locker room, that was great," Dentmon said. "We had to win this game and we came out and did what we needed to do. We did all the things we haven't been doing."
And Dentmon came up big when his team needed him the most.