Ryan Appleby may have still been mad, but it was Aaron Brooks and the Oregon Ducks who eventually got even, beating the Huskies 93-85 in...
EUGENE, Ore. — Ryan Appleby was still mad, but Aaron Brooks eventually got even, leading the Oregon Ducks to a 93-85 Pac-10 men’s basketball victory over the Washington Huskies on Saturday night.
Appleby snubbed Brooks’ handshake before tipoff, still steamed over a forearm to the face during the Pac-10 tournament last March. Then Appleby came out steaming, scoring 17 points before the game was 12 minutes old, powering the Huskies to an early 11-point lead.
“It was a gut reaction,” Appleby said of deciding not to shake the hand of Brooks, a graduate of Franklin High School in Seattle. “There’s no reason to acknowledge someone like that.”
But once Appleby cooled off, Brooks took over, finishing with a game-high 30 points as the Ducks rallied to hand the Huskies their fourth straight loss — Washington’s longest losing streak since January 2004.
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“If he didn’t want to shake my hand, that’s on him,” Brooks said. “I can’t dwell on that. We had a ballgame to win.”
And they did, despite an effort from the Huskies that was better than the desultory 73-65 defeat at Oregon State on Thursday that essentially ended Washington’s hopes of an NCAA bid. Washington is now 16-12 overall, 6-10 in the Pac-10, and assured of its first losing conference record since 2002-03, Lorenzo Romar’s first as Washington’s coach.
The Huskies finish the regular season with a 1-10 road record, winning only at Arizona State, their worst road record since the 1990 team went 1-11.
“That’s kind of the story of our season,” center Spencer Hawes said. “Some games we bring it, some games we don’t.”
Appleby brought it the most, hitting five of his first six three-pointers — some from NBA range — to help UW build a 30-19 lead.
“I always say if you are upset with something to let your game do the talking,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. “I really think Ryan did that tonight.”
Added Brooks: “He hit some deep shots that were almost unguardable.”
But the Ducks (22-7, 10-7) needed only 3:05 to erase the deficit, and the Huskies led only twice more during the rest of the game.
The comeback started after the Ducks put 6-foot-5 Bryce Taylor on Appleby instead of 5-6 Tajuan Porter. Appleby didn’t make a field goal the last 28 minutes of the game.
“They really knew where I was at the whole time,” Appleby said.
Brooks then began to heat up.
He had just 10 at halftime, but erupted for 20 in the second half. Brooks finally played well against his hometown school after he had averaged only eight points in five previous games. Oregon’s only win came when he was thrown out for throwing the forearm at Appleby.
“I don’t want to put too much into it, but I was definitely riled up for it,” Brooks said.
Oregon led 46-40 at halftime, but UW used its inside presence to get back into the game. Hawes scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and Jon Brockman, who had foul trouble in the first half, scored all of his eight after halftime.
Washington took the lead with 15:27 left after a strange sequence in which Oregon coach Ernie Kent and Taylor were each called for technicals arguing an offensive foul on Taylor. Appleby hit the four free throws for his only points of the second half, putting Washington ahead 58-56. But the Ducks quickly responded with six straight points by Brooks to retake the lead. The Huskies led just once more at 65-64 with 11:08 left, but Oregon then went on a 13-2 run.
The Huskies never got closer than six from there, and Ducks fans chanted “N-I-T, N-I-T” at them as the final minutes.
As the game ended, the two sides lined up for the traditional postgame handshake and the crowd waited to see what Brooks and Appleby would do. TV replays showed that Brooks extended his hand, and Appleby didn’t acknowledge him. Ducks fans booed Appleby one more time.
“I felt it today,” Brooks said of the Oregon crowd. “We felt the intensity and the anger and it lifted this team up.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com