With former Husky great Brandon Roy dressed in purple and cheering in the front row at McArthur Court, Washington continued its late-season run toward the NCAA tournament with an 86-72 victory against Oregon.
EUGENE, Ore. — In a sea of green-clad Oregon fans, Brandon Roy — dressed in Husky purple — cheered from a front-row seat at McArthur Court in front of the arena’s famed Pit Crew.
Before Washington’s 86-72 victory Thursday, the former UW standout summed up the Huskies’ late-season turnaround.
“It took them awhile to realize that you can’t just win on energy when you’re on the road,” Roy said. “You have to execute better on the road and you have to have a certain amount of maturity.”
In a must-win game to preserve any chance of securing an NCAA tournament at-large berth, the Huskies turned to their only senior, Quincy Pondexter, who responded with a career-best performance. Pondexter scored 34 points on 14-of-18 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds and six assists.
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Coach Lorenzo Romar said it was probably Pondexter’s best game as a Husky, however Pondexter wasn’t so sure.
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s probably the 12th time that’s come up this year. I’m just trying to come out and play basketball.
“Our team did a great job tonight of fighting through adversity and getting the win on the road. It’s not an easy place to play. We came out and played really hard because we know what’s at stake.”
The Huskies made their final game at Mac Court a memorable one.
A near capacity crowd of 8,004 cheered for Roy and former Ducks coach Dick Harter, who were honored in a pre-game ceremony.
The fans were quiet for much of the game but they stomped and shook the old gym from the floor to the rafters as Oregon rallied in the second half from a 16-point deficit.
After a sluggish first half, the Huskies seized control and led 69-53 with 8:04 left. Oregon stormed back and LeKendric Longmire cut UW’s lead to eight (72-64) with a free throw at the 5:01 mark.
That’s when Elston Turner sank a three-pointer and Venoy Overton picked Malcolm Armstead clean at the top of the key for a layup to put UW ahead by 13 with less than three minutes left.
Pondexter punctuated the win a few possessions later when he flushed a breakaway dunk with 1:38 left that gave UW an 81-66 lead. It was his sixth dunk on a night when he rebounded from a seven-point outing in his previous game.
“I just wanted to come out and prove to everybody that I’m a quality player on the road even though some people don’t think so,” Pondexter said. “I just wanted to come out and play my game.”
Isaiah Thomas (14 points) and Justin Holiday (10) were instrumental in the second half. Each sank a pair of three-pointers and provided standout defense. Thomas held Oregon’s Tajuan Porter to 18 points and Holiday limited Armstead to nine.
“We made a few mistakes the last time we played them and knew we had to clean that up,” Holiday said. “Once we did that, everything else took care of itself.”
The Ducks tried to repeat the formula that worked so well for them in Seattle early in the season when they stunned the Huskies in a 90-79 defeat.
Oregon sophomore Michael Dunigan, who starred in the first meeting, started on the bench but quickly picked up where he left off against the Huskies. In the first half, he overpowered UW in the middle and nearly single-handedly put the Huskies in foul trouble. Dunigan finished with 16 points.
At one point late in the first half, UW led 8-1 in fouls and the disparity made the Huskies tentative on both ends of the court with the exception of Pondexter.
The Husky senior captain scored 20 points before the break and Thomas capped the first half when he picked Porter clean at the top of the key and raced in for a layup as the clock expired.
Washington trailed 40-39 at intermission.
The Huskies rebounded from a sluggish first half and overwhelmed Oregon after the break. UW used an 11-0 run to take a 54-44 lead and put the Ducks on their heels.
The 14-point victory preserved Washington’s bid to capture an NCAA tournament at-large berth and gave the Huskies (20-9, 10-7 Pac-10) their third straight win. Washington, which began the season 0-7 in road games, also claimed its third straight road victory.
The Huskies have won eight of their past 10 games and Romar acknowledged their late-season run is reminiscent of an earlier team.
“A little bit like in ’04 when we came out and won 12 out of 13,” Romar said. “A little bit like that. But we’ve got one more to finish this. There was always one more back then and there’s always one more now.”
The Huskies conclude the regular season Saturday at Oregon State.
With a victory, UW would secure at least the third seed in next week’s Pac-10 Tournament.
“The best teams that play in February and March, they should be in the (NCAA) tournament,” Pondexter said. “Our little lackadaisical start in the Pac-10 season, I think it hurt us but at the same time it made us a better team.
“We didn’t wilt. We didn’t fade away.”
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Percentages: FG .531, FT .625. Three-point goals: 8-23, .348 (Pondexter 2-3, Holiday 2-3, Turner 2-4, Thomas 2-9, Overton 0-1, Gaddy 0-1, Suggs 0-2). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 5 (Bryan-Amaning 2, Thomas, Turner, Holiday). Turnovers: 19 (Overton 5, Thomas 4, Pondexter 3, Bryan-Amaning 3, Turner, Gaddy, Gant, Holiday). Steals: 6 (Thomas 3, Overton, Bryan-Amaning, Gant). Technical fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .371, FT .609. Three-point goals: 6-21, .286 (Humphrey 3-6, Porter 2-8, Armstead 1-4, Longmire 0-1, Singler 0-1, Sim 0-1). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 4 (Dunigan 2, Singler, Jacob). Turnovers: 13 (Porter 6, Armstead 4, Humphrey, Longmire, Jacob). Steals: 13 (Armstead 3, Longmire 2, Humphrey 2, Singler 2, Sim, Jacob, Porter, Dunigan). Technical fouls: None.
Attendance: 8,004. Officials: Tony Padilla, Bruce Hicks, Deron White.