Portland State stays close until lackadaisical Huskies rev it up

  • JOHN SLEEPER / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, November 28, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Herald Writer

SEATTLE – There was little good about the first half for the Washington Huskies.

They were lax. They looked bored. Tentative. They were down a point to a mediocre Portland State team. Against a better one, it could have been 20.

The explosion came suddenly and unexpectedly.

Washington put together a devastating stretch in the second to pull away with a 94-63 non-conference victory before 5,112 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The 94-point total was Washington’s biggest scoring outburst in 67 games, dating back to a 95-94 win over UCLA on March 1, 1998. The 31-point margin was Washington’s largest in 61 games, dating back to an 81-47 win at Hawaii-Hilo on Nov. 27, 1998.

Clearly, something happened at halftime.

“At halftime, coach (Bob Bender) got on us,” reserve guard Curtis Allen said. “It started at warm-ups. We came out lackadaisical. We saw how badly other Pac-10 teams beat them. We thought we were going to kill them.”

The Huskies (2-1) sloshed around to a 36-35 deficit at halftime, looking tentative and shooting horribly. Washington was 13-for-37 from the floor before intermission, and only forward Thalo Green (9 points) and guard Bryan Brown (8 points, two 3-pointers) showed any inclination to face the basket.

The fact that Portland State (0-3) was up just a point at the half was only because of its own misdirected shooting. The Vikings were just 14-for-38 from the floor, despite getting decent looks on most possessions.

Bender said little. He stormed into the dressing room, screamed a few things, told the team it had to write the second-half starting lineup on the chalkboard, then stormed out.

“It got real loud at halftime,” center David Dixon said. “Mostly, it was us talking to each other.”

The players decided to send the original starting lineup out to start the second half: Brown and Michael Johnson at guards; Dixon at center; Perkins and Greg Clark at forwards.

It worked, but only because they revved their engines at a much higher pace.

The Huskies scored the first 10 points of the second half, 14 of the first 15 and 20 of the first 24 to put the game away with 13 minutes remaining.

“We challenged them a little bit and they responded,” Bender said. “They’re a veteran group, and that’s what we would hope.”

Washington came out of the dressing room with new resolve to shut down the overmatched Vikings on the defensive end. Washington’s backcourt forced turnovers by putting more heat on the PSU guards, while the Huskies’ front line dominated the boards, limiting the Vikings to one shot each possession.

“We had to get after guys on the defensive end,” forward Will Perkins said. “Defense is what did it for us. We forced some turnovers and got some easy baskets. We’re a team that’s needs its defense to generate some offense.”

Johnson capped a 10-0 Washington run to open the half with a 3-pointer to give Washington a 45-36 lead. Allen, easily the quickest player on the floor, delivered a no-look pass to Perkins for a slam dunk to extend the advantage to 49-37.

Dixon, who did little in four first-half minutes, kept the smaller Vikings off the boards with three rebounds early in the second half. The 6-foot-11 center was far more aggressive than he had been before intermission and showed flashes of what the UW coaching staff has been raving about for two years.

“David had an important individual game,” Bender said. “It was a confidence-builder that is huge for our team. He has had success in practice, but he has trouble having that same mentality in a game. Tonight, he found that success.”

Dixon finished with six points and five rebounds, all in the second half.

Green led the Huskies with 14 points in 14 minutes. Johnson added 12, and Perkins and Brown chipped in 11 apiece.

Guard Charles Madison led the Vikings with 21 points.

The victory finished a season-opening homestand at 2-1 for the Huskies, who play at Wichita State Thursday and at Gonzaga Saturday.

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