Small difference on the scoreboard could yield huge difference in title race.
The result leaves moves the Huskies (21-7 overall, 12-4 Pacific-10 Conference) a game and a half ahead of Arizona State (21-5, 10-5), as well as UCLA and California, who kept pace with victories Thursday over Stanford and USC respectively. That leaves them all hovering just one game behind the Huskies in the loss column.
That means the Huskies would wrap up at least a tie for the Pac-10 title Saturday with a victory over Arizona, which was eliminated from the regular season race Thursday after losing at Washington State. A UW win over the Wildcats also would assure the elimination of the loser of that day’s UCLA-at-Cal game, although the winner would remain in contention for a share of the title.
"It’s so close we can taste it," UW junior Quincy Pondexter said. "But the next two games won’t be easy at all."
Washington was led by Jon Brockman, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds. However, Justin Dentmon, Isaiah Thomas and Pondexter all scored in double-figures for UW. And Darnell Gant and Justin Holiday got crucial stops at crucial times against ASU’s James Harden, who once again was held under his Pac-10 21.2 point leading average.
Arizona State rode its big guns, getting 24 points from Jeff Pendergraph and 19 from Harden, both of whom fouled out in the overtime. However, Harden’s division of labor was interesting: 15 points in the first half, four in the second.
"We’ve had teams that have a lot of heart," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "I think our hearts have gotten bigger and bigger as this season progresses."
End of regulation: The Huskies made some brutal errors on their final two possessions and we’re headed into overtime, tied 61-61.
Out of town scoreboard: The teams directly behind won as UCLA came back to beat Stanford and Cal beat USC in overtime.
Halftime: Washington led most of the way — peaking at 24-12 after about 10 minutes — but ASU closed over the final few minutes.
James Harden is being far more agressive this time than he was in UW’s win in the desert and already has matched his point total from that game: 15 points. Once again, he’s getting big help from Jeff Pendergraph, 13 points. No other Sun Devil has more than three points.
Jon Brockman is leading UW with 11. Isaiah Thomas has seven, but is 2-of-9 from the field. Justin Dentmon hasn’t scored and is 0-of-6 from the field.
Neither team is hitting from distance: UW is 1-10 and ASU 2-10 from 3-point range.
Rebounds are tied 18-18.
Tipoff: No. 14 Arizona State and No. 21 Washington have tipped off in front of what seems to be a loud and lively sellout crowd.
Normal starters going for UW: Brockman, Dentmon, Pondexter, Gant and Thomas.
And it’s proving to be an interesting night in the Pac-10 already, as Washington State has knocked off Arizona, 69-53. Meanwhile, Stanford is off to a 33-26 lead over UCLA as I type this.
Pregame: I’ve arrived early at Hec Ed, but not earlier than forgotten big men Joe Wolfinger and Artem Wallace, who are on the court working out about two hours and 15 minutes before tip.
Meanwhile, for you much-appreciated blog readers outside the Puget Sound area, Fox Sports Net has announced that tonight’s game will be to Fox sports networks across the country, making it available to more than 65 million viewers nationwide.
Locally, of course, the game is on FSN. Tip is 8 p.m.
That means I’ll slip into what has become my emergency/rush/blogging mode: pregame news as it happens, a few in-game updates, and then notes and quotes after the game … including some that time won’t permit to get into the paper.