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Monday, December 11, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Huskies hope to learn from Gonzaga defeat

Seattle Times staff reporter

Overlooked in all the debate over the impending end of the Washington-Gonzaga basketball series is that the games rarely yield much drama.

Gonzaga's 97-77 victory over Washington in Spokane on Saturday night was a fitting end to the series, which will take at least a temporary break.

It not only was the eighth victory in nine games for Gonzaga since the two started playing annually in 1998, but the seventh decided by 10 or more points.

It also was Washington's most lopsided defeat since an 86-62 defeat against the Bulldogs in 2003.

But as UW coach Lorenzo Romar was quick to point out, some of his previous teams that have lost to Gonzaga have gone on to do just fine. The trick with any defeat, he says, is to take something out of it.

"We know what we need to work on," Romar said.

Everyone was in agreement that defense will now be a top priority.

"We gave up 97 points," said Washington center Spencer Hawes. "I think it's pretty clear."

Time and again, the Bulldogs were left open for jumpers, or allowed driving lanes to the basket, particularly in the first half when Gonzaga hit 22 of 40 shots and 6 of 11 three-pointers.

Romar was most perturbed that the Huskies never seemed to know where Gonzaga guard Derek Raivio was as he was scoring a game-high 25 points.

The Huskies also had no answers for Gonzaga true freshman guard Matt Bouldin, who celebrated his first career start by scoring 21 points.

"He is a great player," said Romar, who sought out Bouldin afterward to congratulate him on the game.

Romar said Gonzaga's offense "in general, cut us up."

Romar didn't want to use his team's youth — four freshmen and two sophomores were among UW's top seven players — as an excuse, but there's little doubt it played a factor.

Defense, in particular, requires the kind of teamwork and communication that can take time to master.

Romar also said young players often need to experience some harsh first-hand lessons to realize how important defense is at this level.

"I think it's a matter of us not being totally committed yet on the defensive end," Romar said. "I think we know what to do. We are aware of what we need to do. It just hasn't hit home yet."

Defense wasn't all that ailed the Huskies on Saturday, however.

Justin Dentmon had one of his worst games, going 2 for 14 from the floor in seeming to try too hard to carry the team.

"At times he tried to put us on his shoulders instead of letting the game come to him," Romar said.

The Huskies also were just 5 for 20 on three-point shooting, 1 for 9 in the second half as Ryan Appleby suffered through a 1-for-6 night from the floor.

Despite that, there were some bright spots. Hawes rebounded from a rough start to score a team-high 20 points — his second consecutive 20-plus game — while Jon Brockman had 13 points and 12 rebounds for his third consecutive double-digit rebounding game and his fifth of the season.

The game also showed a continued thinning of UW's rotation as only seven players saw significant playing time. Brandon Burmeister and Hans Gasser each played only four minutes while Artem Wallace, whose playing time has decreased rapidly of late, played only the last two minutes of garbage time.

"I don't think there's any question that tonight's game will get our attention and we will learn from it," said Romar.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Read his blogs on Washington football and basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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