To get to New York, the Washington Huskies first had to pass through Utah. And it was Jon Brockman who cleared the way, scoring a career-high...
To get to New York, the Washington Huskies first had to pass through Utah.
And it was Jon Brockman who cleared the way, scoring a career-high 31 points and grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds as the Huskies held off the stubborn Utes to grab an 83-77 win in front of 7,006 at Edmundson Pavilion Wednesday night and advance to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off next week at Madison Square Garden.
The Huskies will face Texas A&M, which won the South Regional, in a semifinal game Wednesday.
Brockman’s previous career high was 25 on two different occasions, most recently last Jan. 25 against Oregon State.
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“When it comes down to it, we wanted to go to New York,” Brockman said.
“I just don’t know how much more he could have done,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar of his junior forward. “It’s one of those games that you would hate to see a performance like that go down the drain.”
A few of Brockman’s backcourt mates made sure it didn’t.
Justin Dentmon scored four straight points in a critical stretch in the last two minutes to put UW ahead for good and finished with 16; freshman Venoy Overton had nine points and six assists and keyed a first half that saw UW lead 44-35 at halftime; and freshman Justin Holiday came off the bench to play the final 11 minutes and shut down Utah’s Stephen Weigh.
Weigh scored 21 and led a second-half Utah comeback from 11 points down to three ahead. But he scored only two points in the final 10 minutes with Holiday shadowing him.
“We needed defensive stops at that time,” Romar said. “We said, ‘Hey, let’s give Justin a try.’ “
Said Holiday: “I knew if I got in I’d be able to guard.”
Still, Utah led 75-72 with 2:25 left when Brockman scored his biggest points of the night on two free throws that came after he was fouled after twice getting rebounds of his own misses.
Brockman became the first UW player to score 30 since Brandon Roy against Oregon in the Pac-10 Tournament in 2006, and had the most rebounds by a Husky since Todd MacCulloch grabbed 21 against UCLA on Jan. 31, 1999.
Much of Brockman’s work came inside against Utah’s 7-foot-1 center, Luke Nevill.
“I knew I could reverse-pivot and fake at him and get him leaning one way and kind of use my strength to keep him off,” Brockman said.
Brockman’s free throws sparked a 9-0 run that swung the game Washington’s way with Dentmon putting the Huskies ahead for good on a layup with 1:32 left.
UW will now have a chance to win this version of the NIT after being denied a chance to play in the 2007 postseason version.
“We told our guys that many, many athletes go through their careers and don’t get to play in the Garden,” Romar said. “It’s something that’s special, that you get to carry with you the rest of your life.”
Brockman had 17 points in the first half as the Huskies took a nine-point halftime lead. Weigh hit two three-pointers to help key Utah’s comeback, done mostly without Nevill, who was in foul trouble throughout the second half and finally fouled out with 4:39 left after jostling with Dentmon on a rebound.
Dentmon said he figured Nevill didn’t like the way he tried to box him out “and he threw me out of the way.”
Clear to New York, the way it turned out.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.