It didn't take long after Washington's 64-52 win over Stanford on Sunday for the focus to turn to Wednesday's showdown with Washington State...
It didn’t take long after Washington’s 64-52 win over Stanford on Sunday for the focus to turn to Wednesday’s showdown with Washington State.
Not only does the game loom critical in the Huskies’ slightly revived NCAA tournament hopes — a win would get them back to .500 in conference play at 7-7 — but the Cougars have also won the last three against Washington.
In fact, only three of the 10 players on UW’s active roster have ever beaten the Cougars.
“That’s just extra motivation,” said center Spencer Hawes of WSU’s recent success against the Huskies. “We hate the Cougars whether we would have won the last game, not to mention if they would have beat us by 30. It’s our biggest rival, and it’s a very big game for us in terms of the rest of the season.”
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Hawes didn’t play in the Cougars’ 75-47 win over the Huskies on Jan. 20 in Pullman after suffering a sprained ankle in practice the day before. He had been out of the starting lineup since then until Sunday.
Huskies players, though, said they will need more than just the return of Hawes to beat the Cougars.
“The biggest thing is going to be to compete, to play as hard as we can,” said sophomore forward Jon Brockman. “We can’t play any other way. We have to go right at them.”
Game at a glance
Player of the game: Freshman center Spencer Hawes was on from the start, scoring the first two points of the game in his first start since Jan. 13, and finishing with a game-high 18 points along with seven rebounds.
Turning point: Leading 36-35 early in the second half, Washington outscored Stanford 18-3 over a span of 13:09. Hawes scored eight points in the run.
Next: Washington State, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Edmundson Pavilion
By winning five of their past six, the Huskies have gotten back into the NCAA picture, if only on the margins. But the WSU game figures large. That contest caps three in a row and five of seven at home. After it, UW will play three of five on the road, including contests against ranked teams Pittsburgh and Oregon.
One more change
Against Stanford, the Huskies used their fifth lineup in their past 11 games, with Hawes replacing Artem Wallace in the starting lineup. But this one could stick a while. The unit of Hawes, Brockman, Quincy Pondexter, Ryan Appleby and Justin Dentmon is now 5-0 this year, the best of any of Washington’s starting lineups.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said Hawes moved back into the lineup simply because he was healthy, having been able to make all but one practice the last two weeks after battling a flu-like virus and a sprained ankle.
Though the benching sparked lots of rumors, Hawes said Sunday he was satisfied how it all worked out.
“We [he and Romar] talked about it and I agreed with him for the reason,” Hawes said. “It went just as he said it would go.”
Hawes welcomed the return to the lineup.
“It feels like things are falling back into place and we’re getting back in that rhythm,” he said.
• The win was the 100th of Romar’s UW career, against 50 losses. He joins Hec Edmundson, Tippy Dye, Marv Harshman and Bob Bender as Huskies coaches to win 100 games.
“It just shows we’ve had some pretty good players and a pretty good coaching staff these 4 ½ years,” Romar said. “If you don’t have those, you don’t get [coaching milestones].”
• Stanford guard Anthony Goods suffered a sprained ankle and left the arena on crutches.
• Hawes has 340 points this season and is now third on UW’s all-time freshman scoring list, passing Christian Welp on Sunday. He trails Mike Hayward (406) and Mark Sanford (378).
• Brockman had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season.