Huskies get must-win, beat Oregon State 59-52
The Huskies, fighting for an NCAA berth, advance to Friday's 8:30 p.m. Pac-10 semifinal against No. 7 Stanford.
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW vs. Stanford, 8:30 p.m., FSN
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LOS ANGELES — Who says you can't beat a team three times in a season?
"I've heard that, but I don't believe it," said Elston Turner. "It's doable, but it's just harder that third time."
Behind a second-half comeback spurred by Turner and Isaiah Thomas, Washington erased an 11-point deficit against Oregon State on Thursday night for a 59-52 victory in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center.
The third-seeded Huskies, which beat OSU twice in the regular season and ran their winning streak against the Beavers to seven games, advance to Friday's 8:30 p.m. semifinal against No. 7 Stanford.
The Cardinal upset No. 2 Arizona State, which might have made UW's path to the conference final, and perhaps the NCAA tournament, a whole lot easier.
The Huskies split their regular-season series with ASU while sweeping Stanford. Washington (22-9) beat the Cardinal 78-61 at Maples Pavilion in February and 94-61 at Edmundson Pavilion in January.
Thomas led Washington with 15 points, including four three-pointers. Turner and Matthew Bryan-Amaning each added 10 points.
Quincy Pondexter, UW's leading scorer, was weakened by a cold and tallied nine points.
"Today was the first day I actually did anything all week," he said. "I struggled, but my teammates picked me up and carried us through.
"At this point in the season, it may not look pretty but it's all about winning and going on."
Early in the week, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told his team "right now, we're in a dogfight to make it into the NCAA tournament.
"If we're not motivated by that, we shouldn't be playing."
Romar must have been somewhat surprised by what took place in the opening minutes when the Beavers (14-17) came out fighting. Oregon State coach Craig Robinson promised changes and he tinkered with the lineup. The Beavers started 6-10 Angus Brandt for the first time this season and the freshman forward gave them a tall defender at the basket.
He also sank a pair of three-pointers in the opening minutes, helping OSU to a 16-11 lead with 11:28 left in the first half.
Oregon State also made changes defensively, scrapping its trademark 1-3-1 zone for a 2-3 zone that gave the Huskies fits.
During the season, Washington had no problems scoring against OSU and averaged 79 points in a pair of wins.
Facing a slightly altered defense that packed the middle, the Huskies were unable to find the holes in the zone in the first half, when they shot 38.1 percent from the field (8 of 21) while Oregon State built a 31-22 halftime lead.
The Beavers pushed their advantage to 11 (33-22) before the Huskies went on a 15-4 run to tie the score on a Thomas three-pointer at 12:29.
Washington took the lead on its next possession when Turner drained a trey at the 11:20 mark. It was UW's first lead since early in the first half when it was up 11-10.
The Huskies continued pick apart Oregon State's zone with long jumpers and putbacks from Pondexter.
Thomas sank another shot behind the arc to put UW up 46-39.
After the big shots, the Huskies seized momentum and control of the game.
Oregon State got a game-high 17 points from senior center Roeland Schaftenaar and 15 from freshman guard Jared Cunningham.
Next up: Stanford. It's not the matchup many envisioned before the tournament.
"It's not any easier. In fact, it's tougher because they were good enough to beat ASU," Pondexter said.
The Huskies will face the dilemma of having to beat another team three times in a season.
"We did it last year with Stanford," Turner said. "We got them in the (regular) season and faced them in the first round in the tournament and beat them there too.
"Like I said, it's doable. It's just harder."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
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