Washington Upsets Ducks, 97-92

Jan. 24, 2002

By JANIE McCAULEY

AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE - Doug Wrenn wants to do all he can in the second half of theseason to make sure his coach keeps his job and the Washington program regainssome respect.

Wrenn scored a career-high 32 points, including six over the final 1:19, asthe energized Huskies defeated No. 19 Oregon 97-92 Thursday night.

He and his teammates have heard the comments on campus this week about their45-point loss last Saturday at Stanford, and they've heard the criticism ofcoach Bob Bender in the media.

'A lot of people are on my coach about this and that,' Wrenn said. 'Butwe have to come out and fight hard for him and for ourselves.'

The Ducks, the turnaround team of the Pac-10, had won four straight and 10of 11 but struggled defensively against a team averaging 70.3 points. Oregongave up the most points it has all season.

Washington's scoring output was its second best of the season and theHuskies (8-11, 2-7) shot 54 percent in the first half.

Washington, which played a ranked opponent for the fifth time in sevengames, had lost three straight and nine of 10. The Huskies have had consecutive20-loss seasons and athletic director Barbara Hedges isn't saying whetherBender will be back for a 10th season.

Bender praised his team for its poise at the free throw line late in thegame. The Huskies converted 11 of 12 free throws over the final 40 seconds, sixby Curtis Allen, who was 12-of-12 from the line and had 18 points. It was thefirst time this season the Huskies came back to win after trailing with fiveminutes left.

Frederick Jones scored 27 points and Luke Ridnour matched his career-highwith 23 for the Ducks (14-5, 6-2), who were looking for their best conferencestart since 1939 when they began 11-1 in the Pacific Coast Conference underHall of Fame coach Howard Hobson. Oregon's ranking is its highest in fiveyears.

Ridnour, a sophomore from Blaine, Wash., is considered the recruit who gotaway from the Huskies. He made four 3-pointers and had seven assists but washeld without a field goal for 17 minutes in the second half. Luke Jackson added18 points for Oregon.

'They came out and played hard,' Ridnour said. 'They really needed a wintonight. The outplayed us and outworked us. ... I know (Bender) is a good coachand will get this team winning.'

Bender opted to keep the focus on his players rather than talking about hisjob security.

'They did it together and they did it during a time when they could havelooked over their shoulder and said 'Here we go again,' but they didn't,'Bender said.

Washington, Washington State and Oregon State are battling for a spot in thePac-10 tournament, which takes eight teams. Oregon plays at last-placeWashington State on Saturday, while the Huskies play Oregon State at home.

'(They) have such a sense of urgency right now,' Oregon coach Ernie Kentsaid of those three teams. 'They are fighting for their lives to make theconference tournament. Every win is such a huge win for them.'

Wrenn's previous career-high was 29 points set Jan. 6 against SouthernCalifornia. On Thursday, he got two points on a goaltending call with 1:19left. He scored 18 in the first half with three dunks and had seven rebounds.

'I was hoping our students would come down onto the floor,' Wrenn said.'It was a big-time win.'

The Huskies were whistled for seven quick fouls in the second half, puttingthe Ducks in the bonus with 16:48 left.

Jones put Oregon ahead 75-73 on a 3-pointer with 7:27 left, then Allenanswered with a 3 to give Washington a 76-75 lead before Jackson hit a 3 as theDucks went ahead 78-76 with 6:56 remaining.

Reserve center Brian Helquist scored 10 points for the Ducks as ChrisChristoffersen's substitute. The 7-foot-2 Chritoffersen was held to threepoints and limited to 13 minutes because of foul trouble.

The Huskies also lost their big man early as David Dixon played only 11minutes and eventually fouled out.

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