Pre season All-American Adam Morrison brought his A-game along with his mop top and whiskers to the Bank of America Arena on this much-anticipated weekend. As the Bulldogs looked to improve their seven consecutive victories over the Huskies, Morrison's game high 43-point performance proved to be not enough as the Huskies came out on top in the end 99-95, stretching their home winning record to 29 consecutive games.
After the victory, Lorenzo Romar joked with the media by saying, "If I could just help all you out, help you understand something you might not understand, Adam Morrison is really good."
Morrison carried the Bulldogs forcing turnovers on one end and putting up the points on the other. Morrison put an exclamation mark at the end of his Pre-Season All-American Candidate label after his performance in B of A tonight. His 43-points was within two of the most points ever allowed in a game by a Washington opponent.
Romar continued to rave about Morrison by saying, "That is a phenomenal performance, with no question the best performance of anyone that I've been sitting on the other bench with as an assistant or head coach. We contested him all night. He hit great shots"
It was the night for an all-around performance for Washington, with five players scoring in double figures. Jamaal Williams led UW with 22, followed by Justin Dentmon with a career high 17 (13 in the 2nd half), Bobby Jones with 15, Ryan Appleby with 14 and Brandon Roy with a quiet 10 while struggling with foul trouble.
With one freshman struggling to find his rhythm, another stepped up to the challenge. Jon Brockman had a quiet night, scoring below his usual double figures, but Justin Dentmon took over, taking this time to shine. With freshman jitters in the past, Dentmon played bigger than his 5-foot-11 frame.
"I couldn't be more proud of our guys, said Romar. "Our guys played a tough game of basketball. That's about as high-level of a basketball game that you're going to get in college and I thought our guys responded. Couple people asked me about 'what about your freshmen playing in a game like this?' and Jon [Brockman] held his own but my comment was those guys change like the bigger the game, the bigger they play and Justin Dentmon stepped up big time by the end of the second half."
The seniors also put up big numbers as Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones, and Jamaal Williams led the young pups by example. Jones found his way into the middle of every big play flying from across the court to dive for loose balls. Williams provided all the offensive fire the Huskies needed with his soft touch hook shots and turnaround jumpers. Roy did all the little things that he does best to deliver when it matters.
Coach Romar did his part on the court as well, contesting questionable calls. He took off his jacket and barked at the referees, earning himself a technical foul with 13:14 to go in the second half.
With an already thin bench, as Erroll Knight and Josh Heytvelt both out with injuries, the Zags suffered another huge loss with 9:41 left in the first half. After a foul committed by Justin Dentmon, guard Derek Raivio went flying then hit the floor hard, landing on his back. He went into the locker room shortly after sinking two free throws and parked on the bench for the rest of the game,
"We x-rayed his back, and his lower body was tightening up, said Gonzaga coach Mark Few of Raivio's injury. "Basically, we couldn't push off. He tried to warm up in the second half, but he just couldn't go. I don't know what medically is wrong with him."
Gonzaga went into zone defense as the game began, in its efforts to shut the inside game. However, Jones and Appleby's long-range jumpers proved to be too much for the Zags early in the game. When the perimeter was covered, the Dawgs relied on other weapons, looking inside to offensive minded Jamaal Williams. Williams scored seven of the Huskies' first eleven points on a perfect three for three shooting before finishing with a season-high 22 points. The Huskies had an answer for every impossible shot made by Morrison.
After the game, coach Few talked highly of his players and their performance. "I thought our guys showed character. They stepped up, and hit some big shots, we got some good looks. We had two freshmen on the floor for a long period of time. We had some JC guys. I am proud of how the guys handled it."
The Huskies had too many weapons for the Bulldogs to handle. After Ryan Appleby and Joel Smith came up big, switching off their duties from behind the arc late in the game. The game came down to the wire at the end. Roy had a rare foul-out with 2:20 left in the game. Dentmon came up huge on a play, getting fouled on his way to the basket by Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes. Dentmon made the basket, sank the free throw, and put Washington up by four with nearly a minute remaining in the game. On their last possession, Morrison couldn't convert and the Huskies came up with the rebound, forcing Gonzaga to foul Jones.
"We were looking for an isolation out there, said Few of Gonzaga's last possession. "We took too tough of a shot. We should have been patient out there, but Adam makes tough shots all the time, so if the ball is in his hands, that is where we want the ball to be. He was making his shots earlier, so it was pretty much his call. But no, we were not looking for a three."
Tonight marked the fifth time this season the Huskies have had at least five players score in double figures. It also marks the first time this season the Huskies played in front of a capacity crowd at the Bank of America Arena.