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Originally published December 29, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 29, 2006 at 12:25 AM

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Huskies men come up shy

The Huskies ran out of players and then they ran out of miracles. After forcing a second overtime when Spencer Hawes hit as the buzzer sounded...

Seattle Times staff reporter

LOS ANGELES — The Washington Huskies ran out of players Thursday and then, finally, they ran out of time.

But not before Spencer Hawes added to his burgeoning legend by making the first three-point attempt of his career to force a second overtime against the USC Trojans.

"When he hit that it's like: All right, we're going to win this game, we've got the momentum now," said Huskies guard Ryan Appleby.

Alas, USC took advantage of a short-handed Washington team in the second overtime — four Huskies fouled out before it was over — to pull away for an 86-79 victory.

It was the Pac-10 opener for both teams and the first conference game played at USC's spiffy new Galen Center.

It was also Washington's second loss of the season against 10 wins, both coming on the road. But unlike the 20-point blowout at Gonzaga, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar had praise for his team's effort afterward.

"Of course we'd like to get the win, but we're more interested in the effort," Romar said. "I was proud of how our guys competed."

The double-overtime affair seemed a fitting conclusion to what was a see-saw game throughout — there were 14 ties and neither team led by more than seven points.

Washington led 36-31 at halftime. After USC came back and appeared ready to win, the Huskies tied the game with 5.8 seconds left in regulation on two free throws by Jon Brockman.

USC led most of the first overtime and appeared in command when Appleby, who made six three-pointers in the game, missed and the ball went out of bounds with one second left. But Washington kept possession and just enough hope.

In the huddle during the timeout, Romar called the play for Hawes, thinking the Trojans would heavily defend Appleby and Phil Nelson.

"He's capable of hitting those shots," Romar said. "We had confidence he could knock it down."

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Hawes was glad to hear his name called, saying it gave him a chance at redemption. Though he finished with a career-high 24 points, he was unhappy that he had just five rebounds and couldn't get some key ones down the stretch.

"I had to make it," he said. "I couldn't let them down again."

Hawes caught a pass from Nelson at the top of the key and swished it to force the second overtime.

"He's one of the most skilled young players I've seen," said USC coach Tim Floyd of Hawes. "We really had a chance to feel sorry for ourselves at the end of regulation and the first overtime. But we responded to adversity."

Washington never led in the second overtime, and the Trojans took command on consecutive three-pointers by Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young midway through.

It helped that by then Washington was without point guard Justin Dentmon, who fouled out late in regulation, and Brockman and Adrian Oliver, who followed in the first overtime. Then Quincy Pondexter left late in the second overtime.

"It felt like the UConn game [the Sweet 16 loss last March] when we had all our key guys foul out and we didn't have a lot left and they had all their starters," Appleby said.

Brockman played just 26 minutes, and his absence was notable down the stretch of regulation, when he was out with four fouls and USC grabbed offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive.

"Those were key rebounds down the stretch," Romar said. "We just didn't get to those."

The Huskies, who have outrebounded every foe this season, held just a 39-38 edge against USC.

Brockman said officials had told the team captains before the game that they weren't going to allow too much physical play. Washington was called for 30 fouls to 18 for USC.

Because of the fouls, Hans Gasser played a career-high 24 minutes and hit two key three-pointers in the second half.

Washington hit 7 of 14 three-pointers in the first half and scored the last 10 points to take a five-point lead at the break. Appleby hit five three-pointers in the first half, including one from about 28 feet as the half ended.

The Huskies made 13 of 26 three-pointers for the game, the second-most of the season.

USC came out hot after the break, making its first seven shots to retake the lead, keyed by the play of Young (25 points), center Taj Gibson (22 points and 10 rebounds) and Pruitt, who had 18 points and six assists.

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

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