Huskies Overpower Oregon, Advance To Tourney Final

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by Michelle Smith

LOS ANGELES - The battle of the Northwest had a definite northern emphasis at Staples Center Friday night.

Washington withstood a second-half charge from Oregon and finished strong, closing out a 69-51 win over the Ducks in the semifinal round of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament.

The Huskies (22-10) reach the championship game for the second straight season and will face top-seeded Arizona Saturday at 3 p.m.

The two teams split the regular-season series, with the home team winning each game. The last time they played, on Feb. 19, Arizona finished with an 87-86 victory.

It will be a battle between the team that won the Pac-10 regular-season title and the team that was picked to win before the season began, and it will be the second time these two teams have met in the finals. Washington has won both games.

Washington earned its spot with a strong defensive effort, holding the Ducks to their second-lowest scoring output this season. Oregon shot 32.1 percent for the game after a slow start in which they scored just four points in almost seven minutes.

"Our zone helped us," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. "I think maybe it slowed them down a little bit and didn't allow them to get going, and they can get going."

On the offensive end, it was a team effort for Washington.

Eight players scored for the Huskies. Four players ended up in double figures including CJ Wilcox with 14 points and  Terrence Ross with 13 points. Isaiah Thomas and Scott Suggs added 10 each.

"It's the second game in a row that we had a team contribution, and that's something that can excite you as a coach," Romar said.

Thomas finished with a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists, which tied the tournament record.

"I found my teammates and they were knocking down shots," Thomas said. "I can't do it without my teammates."

Washington led Oregon 30-21 at the half despite the fact that the teams were nearly even in field-goals made and rebounds. But the Huskies were 7 of 10 from the line and that was the difference.

Oregon, a No. 7 seed that made a great tournament run, closed the gap to 44-40, but the Huskies were able to hold Oregon to just 11 points over the final 10 minutes and pull away. Wilcox had 11 of his points in the second half.

The Ducks finished their first season under coach Dana Altman at 16-17. Joevan Catron, who played in foul trouble much of the game, led the Ducks with 18 points and nine rebounds.

And now it's a finals matchup between two of the best teams in the conference in recent years.

"They got us last time and we want some revenge," Thomas said.

Post-game Notes
• With 12 assists tonight, Isaiah Thomas moved into fourth place on Washington's career assists list, passing teammate Venoy Overton. Thomas has 393 in his career.
• Thomas recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 assists.
• Isaiah tied the single-game Pac-10 Tournament record with his 12 assists.
• Isaiah Thomas has notched 10 or more assists in back-to-back games for the second time this season and is only the third Husky to do so.
• Oregon set a new school record for steals in a season as the Ducks now have 270 (8 tonight). The team passed the previous mark of 263 set in the 2002-03 season.
• Washington advances to the Championship game for the second year in a row as a No. 3 seed.
• Washington is 2-2 all-time in the Championship game of the Pac-10 Tournament.
• The Ducks only lead of the game came at the 17:47 mark in the first half (2-0). Oregon cut the lead to four points with 9:49 in the second half (44-40).
• Oregon's 51 points was the lowest out-put against a Pac-10 opponent this season.
• UO shot 16.7 percent on 3-pointers, the lowest percentage since shooting 5.9 percent against Arizona in the Pac-10 Conference opener on Dec. 30.
• Joevan Catron (18 points) has scored 85 points in eight career games against Washington (10.6 ppg). This season he averaged 19.3 ppg in three games against the Huskies this season.
• Catron led the team in scoring for the 17th time this season (20th time of his career). He also led the team in rebounding, something Catron has done 16 times this season (42 times on the career). He fell just one rebound shy of registering his 11th career double-double (18 points, 9 rebounds).
• Malcolm Armstead reached double figures in scoring for the fourth consecutive game (fifth time in the last six games).
• Armstead, establishing a new career-high with six steals on Friday night, remains in sixth place all-time for career steals at UO (now with 139 steals in 64 games). He recently moved by Aaron Brooks who recorded 127 steals in 115 career games. Anthony Taylor ranks fifth with 147 steals in 115 career games.

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