No. 14 Huskies Roll Over Eastern Washington, 89-56

Dec. 5, 2004

Final Stats

By Tim Korte

Seattle (AP) - Nate Robinson and the Washington Huskies were eager to get back on the court, and it showed.

Robinson had 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, leading No. 14 Washington to an 89-56 victory over Eastern Washington on Sunday.

The Huskies (5-1) rebounded from their midweek loss at rival Gonzaga.

'It took forever. Practices took forever,' Robinson said. 'This was another stepping stone for us. We're getting better. We're practicing harder. Every guy is showing focus. Coach always says, 'You practice like you play.''

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar wanted to see some improvement after the Huskies allowed Gonzaga to shoot 59 percent in Wednesday's 99-87 loss. Using a fullcourt press, they held Eastern Washington (2-3) to 41 percent shooting and forced 30 turnovers.

'I'm not one of those coaches who says, 'We're glad we lost because we learned from it,'' Romar said. 'I'm never glad if we lose.'

Tre Simmons was 8-for-13 from the field and scored 20 points, while Will Conroy added 11 points for the Huskies. Even seldom-used reserve Zane Potter hit two late free throws, drawing a loud cheer from Washington's rowdy students.

'That's big-time,' Robinson said. 'The crowd loves Zane. They love all the guys on the bench.'

Washington opened with a 13-6 spurt over the first 4 minutes - getting 3-pointers from Simmons, Conroy and Bobby Jones - and never looked back. And the Huskies weren't even at full strength.

Center Hakeem Rollins sat out as a precaution with a strained right knee. Swingman Brandon Roy, who's out until Pac-10 play begins after arthroscopic knee surgery, wore a T-shirt on the bench.

Washington, opening a stretch with seven of its next eight games at home, lost to the Zags after three impressive games to win the Great Alaska Shootout, where the 5-foot-9 Robinson was chosen MVP.

'The loss to Gonzaga just lingers with you,' Romar said. 'We were glad to bounce back and play relatively good basketball.'

Back home, the Huskies dominated.

Freshman Jacob Beitinger led Eastern Washington with 14 points, and Matt Nelson scored 10, but the Eagles' 30 turnovers led to 45 points for the quicker Huskies.

'Our goal was to take care of the basketball and try to take care of the tempo,' Eagles coach Mike Burns said. 'Those things go hand-in-hand against Washington. If you don't take care of the basketball, it creates tempo for them.'

Marc Axton, who scored a career-high 36 points in Eastern Washington's win last week over NAIA member Cascade of Oregon, had only seven against the Huskies on 2-of-11 shooting.

Burns used Axton, a two-time All-Big Sky Conference selection, to bring the ball upcourt, but it wore him down.

'It was a gamble we decided to take,' Burns said.

Washington used run after run to bury the Eagles, and the outcome was decided midway through the first half. A 13-0 burst boosted the lead to 23-6, then came a 16-3 run as Washington made it 39-12 with 8:39 left in the half.

'We stepped up our tempo,' Robinson said. 'We didn't play the defense we should have played the other night. We turned it up. We wanted to show our coaches we can get down and defend the whole 40 minutes.'

Everything went right for the Huskies.

Jamal Williams, a transfer from New Mexico, stumbled when he sliced into the lane but threw up an off-balance shot and banked the ball in. Moments later, Williams made a steal and got the ball ahead to Conroy for a dunk that made it 49-20.

'We just had to get down and play hard on defense,' Simmons said. 'I think we did a pretty good job. We could have done better, but I think we got over that hump from the Gonzaga game.'

The Eagles never got the deficit below 20 points in the second half.