A funny thing happened on the way to Washington's showdown with No. 1-rated UCLA on Sunday -- the USC Trojans.
The Huskies opened conference play Thursday night with an 86-79 double-overtime loss at USC in which some of the team's potential problem spots this season -- inexperience and a lack of depth up front -- proved decisive.
The Huskies fell into some major trouble with four players fouling out, including true freshmen Quincy Pondexter and Adrian Oliver, each playing their first conference road game. Also fouling out was Jon Brockman, the team's best rebounder. With Brockman sitting much of the second half, the Trojans outrebounded UW by nine, and a few offensive boards late led to some key points for USC.
The Huskies tied the game at the end of regulation and the first overtime to stay alive, earning praise from coach Lorenzo Romar for the way the team competed.
Especially impressive was freshmen center Spencer Hawes, who had a career-high 24 points, including a three-pointer that tied the game at the end of the first overtime -- the first three-point attempt of his college career. But Hawes also had just five rebounds in 47 minutes, further evidence that he still needs improvement in that area.
With four players out, UW was down to just six players for the final minutes of the double overtime, and USC finally took advantage to pull away.
The Huskies stayed in the game mostly by hitting 13 of 26 three-pointers, their second-most makes of the season.
The Huskies took a 36-31 lead at halftime after scoring the final 10 points of the first half and seemed on the way to winning at USC for the third straight year.
Instead, the Trojans made their first seven shots of the second half to retake the lead, and the Huskies fought an uphill battle the rest of the night in the 86-79, double-overtime loss.
UW used two Jon Brockman free throws with 5.8 seconds left to force overtime, and Hawes' three-pointer at the buzzer to force a second OT.
But UW made just 29 of 66 shots for the game and had just two players in double figures -- Spencer Hawes with 24 and Ryan Appleby with 18, all on three-pointers.
UW is 10-2 overall and 0-1 in Pac-10 play. It's the first time since the 2003-04 season UW has lost its conference opener.
--Freshmen center Spencer Hawes scored a career-high 24 points, making 10 of 16 field goals. He has scored 20 or more points in six of UW's last seven games and has 23, 23 and 24 in his last three. He also played a career-high 47 minutes.
--Point guard Justin Dentmon was again a little shaky on the road, losing four turnovers and fouling out in 28 minutes. He scored just nine points before leaving.
--Forced to play a career-high 24 minutes because of foul trouble to other players, Hans Gasser responded with seven points, two on three-pointers late in regulation.
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