A big thanks to Don Ruiz, who filled in for me at the Husky game and not only wrote the game story but had in-game updates on the blog.
Washington improved to 7-5 this season and got off to a 1-0 start in Pacific-12 Conference play with a 95-80 win over the Beavers (10-3, 0-1).
The win played out before an announced crowd of 9,592, and the fans saved some of their loudest cheers as for video highlights of the football game in San Antonio.
“It got really loud one time,” said UW forward Desmond Simmons. “I don’t know what they showed on the Jumbotron, but at one point it got really loud.”
There also was plenty to cheer on the floor of Alaska Airlines Arena.
Washington never trailed and led by as many as 20 points late in the first half. The game, though, did tighten up late. The Beavers cut their deficit to three points – 83-80 – less than three minutes from the end before UW delivered the knockout punch.
“They’re so explosive, you can’t hold that team down too long,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said of the visitors. “Sooner or later there’s going to be a leak somewhere, and tonight the leak was (Angus) Brandt and (Joe) Burton. I thought we did a decent job on (Jared) Cunningham and (Ahmad) Starks. But it’s so hard to contain all of them, and I thought during that stretch they kind of got loose on us.”
Cunningham – who came in as the top scorer in the conference – ended with 15 points. However, only two came in the second half, and Romar singled out Abdul Gaddy for his defense on Cunningham.
Let’s get to last night’s Pac-12 games
Washington’s opponent on Saturday, Oregon, went into Pullman and handled the Cougs, 92-75.
Oregon shot a season-best 69.4 percent from the field, including 56 percent on three-point attempts. There were 20 assists recorded by the Ducks, and they had a 12-rebound advantage on the Cougars. Four Ducks scored in double figures, led by Olu Ashaolu’s 23 points, and not one UO player missed more shots than he made in the game.
After Oregon’s three lowest-scoring outputs of the season in the previous four games, this was Oregon’s season high for points and 23 more than their average output.
“That was a little different team than we’ve seen,” UO coach Dana Altman said. “That was a big step for us.”
The Ducks (10-3, 1-0) went into their holiday break and came out of it focused on better movement of the basketball on offense, and improved rebounding at both ends of the court.
Vince Grippi of the Spokesman said it was one of the poorest defensive showings he can remember from a WSU team.
Yes, Oregon played well. Real well. But there was nothing the Ducks did on the offensive end that was new or unusual. A lot of ball screens. Pull the other big out of the key, drawing the defender. Roll or slip the screener toward the basket. They did it well and E.J. Singler, the Ducks’ four man, has hurt WSU in the past so the Cougars had to be aware of where he was, but it wasn’t anything unusual. Stopping it took help. And help wasn’t there.
Cal felt generous and tried to give away a 16-point lead and let USC back in the game. The Bears hung on for a 53-49 win in Berkley.
From Jeff Faraudo’s game story for the Bay Area News Group
USC’s 5-foot-7 sophomore Maurice Jones hit three 3-pointers in the final 4 minutes, 36 seconds to erase most of a 16-point Cal lead before the Bears held on for a 53-49 victory in their Pac-12 Conference opener.
“We got a little lucky at the end,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.
Well, perhaps. Ahead 50-49, the Bears ran the clock from 43 seconds to about 10 when Jorge Gutierrez’s driving layup try was emphatically rejected by USC 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon.
The ball wound up in the hands of Allen Crabbe, who said he didn’t know where he was on the floor but knew time was short.
“I just threw it up,” Crabbe said.
USC reserve guard Eric Strangis was whistled for fouling Crabbe, who was behind the 3-point arc at the time.
Crabbe made all three free throws with 8.4 seconds left to ice the win.
Over in Palo Alto, Stanford got a game-saving block from Josh Huestis (MONTANA REPRESENT!) on a Lazeric Jones shot to secure a 60-59 win.
From Elliott Almond’s game story …
Stanford’s Josh Huestis knew exactly what to expect Thursday night when UCLA’s Lazeric Jones got the ball with three seconds left while his team trailed by a point.
The Bruins’ leading scorer wanted to shoot or draw a foul for a potential game winner.
Jones could do neither as Huestis made a game-saving block on a floater in the lane to lead the Cardinal to a 60-59 victory in the Pacific-12 Conference opener in front of a crowd of 6,777 at Maples Pavilion.
“Defense wins games,” Huestis said. “That’s proof of that.”
It’s not proof of much else as Stanford (11-2, 1-0 Pac-12) couldn’t shake the holiday doldrums in its unappetizing showing that snapped UCLA’s five-game win streak.
The Bruins (7-6, 0-1) just aren’t that good this season, and neither is the league. The defensive battle Thursday night gave little indication of how prepared the Cardinal is to make a serious run at the Pac-12 title.
Diane Pucin writes that it was “an almost kind of basketball game for UCLA”
The Bruins would almost get a rebound. And then a Stanford player would tip it away. The Bruins would make a steal and almost get a layup. Except the ball would rim out or get blocked. The Bruins would almost get a lead. But never in the second half.