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Monday, February 27, 2006 - Page updated at 06:58 PM

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UW Men's Basketball

Packed at the top: Huskies just a game behind UCLA in Pac-10

Seattle Times staff reporter

On the night he said goodbye to Edmundson Pavilion, Brandon Roy might have said hello to so much more.

A Pac-10 title, player of the year awards, a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.

All seem possible for Roy and the Huskies after the senior guard turned in another scintillating performance, scoring a game-high 27 points, to lead Washington to a 73-62 victory over Cal in what was a must-win game for UW's Pac-10 regular season title hopes.

Washington (22-5 overall) is now tied with Cal (17-8) for second place in the Pac-10 at 11-5, a game behind UCLA. The outcome sets up a dramatic final week as UCLA plays at Cal Thursday while the Huskies will be at lowly Arizona State, leaving open the possibility of a three-way tie heading into the last day of the season.

"I'm just happy we are in the race for the Pac-10 title again," said Roy, remembering that the Huskies were in sixth place just 22 days ago after a loss at Washington State that capped a three-game losing streak.

It was the last home game for five UW seniors, including Roy, who helped turn the program around from Pac-10 doormat to perennial contender.

"This is a great way to leave," Roy said.

Roy scored 19 of his points in the second half, and 11 from the nine-minute mark to the two-minute mark, as the Huskies put the game away for good. He also shut down Cal guard Ayinde Ubaka, who was 2 of 9 and scored six points in 39 minutes.

"He did what great players do," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "Great players take their team to great heights and he did that tonight with the help of his teammates. But the second half, he just took over."

In the process, Roy made a big statement about being the Pac-10 player of the year as he outplayed Cal's Leon Powe, thought to be the other main contender.

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Powe had 14 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes and also picked up four fouls, which caused his coach, Ben Braun, to rail about the officiating afterward. Braun was particularly upset about a couple of charge calls against Powe, one coming when he ran over Roy late in the game.

"I thought there was some questionable judgment in those situations," Braun said.

Asked if he wanted Powe to get more than the seven shots he took, Braun said, "He would have fouled out a long time ago if he had gotten any more touches."

But the Huskies believed they were the ones limiting Powe's opportunities, using a swarming defense to trap Cal's guards out front and make it hard to get the ball inside. Not that Powe was open often thanks to the defense of forwards Jon Brockman and Mike Jensen.

"We don't think their guards are really good at handling pressure," said Jensen, a senior. "Our main thing is to try to put the pressure out there so they couldn't get the ball inside."

Still, some Senior Day jitters had the Huskies looking a little ragged early.

"In the first half, I caught myself just running up and down the court thinking too much that this is my last game," Roy said.

Once they settled down, however, the Huskies took control, leading 33-29 at halftime, then taking a 50-40 lead with exactly 10 minutes left, thanks in large part to another night of hot three-point shooting. Washington was 10 of 20 from beyond the arc.

But Cal made a couple of last-gasp runs, cutting the lead to six on two occasions. Both times, Roy answered, once spinning down the baseline and making a jumper as the shot clock wound down, another time simply pulling up and hitting a three-pointer.

"There's something about late in the game — that's when I feel like I'm at my best," said Roy, who has now scored 20 or more points in nine straight games.

Powe, meanwhile, grew frustrated at not being able to counter. Once, he grabbed Jensen's jersey in a futile attempt at a rebound.

"He started yelling at his teammates, saying 'Pass me the ball, pass me the ball,' " Jensen said. "That's when you know you are really in someone's head. So I just started pushing him more and he started trying to scratch and throw me around."

As the game ended, Romar had the chance to pull each of the scholarship seniors — Roy, Jensen, Jamaal Williams (13 points) and Bobby Jones (six points, six rebounds) — who left to standing ovations.

"When I was dreaming, this is exactly how I dreamed it," said Roy, who considered leaving for the NBA after last season. "I dreamed of this moment. To be almost this close to the goal of a Pac-10 championship and some accolades for myself — it's great."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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