Basketball | UW men short in opener, 80-74
Long before the Washington Huskies realized their All-America candidate could nearly score at will and dominate in the low post, the Portland...
Seattle Times staff reporter
PORTLAND — Long before the Washington Huskies realized their All-America candidate could nearly score at will and dominate in the low post, the Portland Pilots were racing toward an upset in Saturday's season opener for both teams.
Before making Jon Brockman the No. 1 option in the offense, every other UW player took turns launching errant shots and failed dribble drives that resulted in 23 turnovers.
After 12 minutes, the Huskies finally turned to Brockman, who nearly eclipsed his career-high scoring total, and almost led the Huskies to a comeback win. Portland weathered a late UW rally and claimed a shocking 80-74 victory that prompted Portland students to rush the floor at the Chiles Center while the Huskies streamed out of a side door in stunned silence.
The Pilots snapped a five-game losing streak to Washington and won for just the second time in 12 games.
"They were more focused," Brockman said. "It was a bigger game for them than it was for us."
Washington knew the dangers of starting the season on the road against an opponent that returned four starters and nearly beat the Huskies last season in Seattle before falling 67-63.
"We'll be better prepared the next time we go do this," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "I'm not second-guessing."
Romar put the defeat squarely on the shoulders of every Husky with the exception of Brockman, who finished with 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting, one shy of his career best. He also had 14 rebounds in 33 minutes.
Romar was at a loss to explain why Brockman had just one shot attempt and was scoreless in the first 12 minutes while the Pilots streaked to a 28-16 lead.
"That was part of us not understanding," Romar said. "We tried to do it too much individually. When we started going to Jon, the game changed."
When asked if Brockman could have scored 50 points, Romar said: "Yeah. But once we caught on, we caught on and we started giving him the ball."
Brockman scored 12 consecutive points for the Huskies, including 16 of Washington's final 18 points before the break. The Huskies trailed 37-34 at intermission.
"I was just more frustrated at the fact we weren't all working together," Brockman said. "I have no problem with people taking shots. That's fine. For the most part, I think it was just first-game jitters. As soon as we calmed down, we got into it."
For all the talk about Washington's talented quartet of newcomers led by pint-size powerhouse Isaiah Thomas, Brockman proved that if the Huskies are going to rebound from last year's 16-17 season, then he's going to lead the way.
The newbies, Thomas and Elston Turner, appeared overwhelmed at times in their collegiate debuts.
"I got caught with some ticky-tack fouls that messed me up," said Thomas, who finished with 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting, three rebounds and three turnovers before fouling out with 3:52 remaining. "It's just disappointing. That's all I can say."
Turner had six points and four turnovers in 21 minutes.
"I got the shots I wanted," said Quincy Pondexter, who was 0 for 6. "They just didn't go down. I had some rebounds [eight] and assists [three], but my shot was not falling."
Guard Justin Dentmon took 12 shots and converted five for 15 points.
As poorly as the Huskies played early, Brockman sank a layup that gave them a 66-62 lead with 4:37 remaining.
"But [minutes] later, we were trailing," he said. "That's how quickly it happens."
Poor free-throw shooting, which plagued the Huskies last season, stymied them once again as Brockman missed two foul shots with 2:01 remaining. The Huskies were 19 of 32 from the line. Brockman also misfired on his first three-pointer in the final minute.
Led by forward Robin Smeulders (20 points) and Nik Raivio (19 points and seven rebounds), the Pilots salted away the win.
Washington played without sophomore reserve forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who injured his left leg last week. He may return for Tuesday's game against Cleveland State at Edmundson Pavilion.
Attendance: 2,617. Officials: Rick Batsell, Ken Ditty, Michael Eggers.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies
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