Washington Holds Off Georgia

Isaiah Thomas led Washington with 19 points in the Huskies' 68-65 win over Georgia in the NCAA Tournament Friday night. (Photo by Kevin Cox/Getty Images)

Final Score: Washington 68 Georgia 65

In what is becoming a familiar theme for Pac-10 teams in the NCAA Tournament, Washington, the seventh seed in the East,  survived a late rally by tenth seeded Georgia, and moved on to the round of 32, with a 68-65 win. Like UCLA and Arizona, the Huskies had what looked like an adequate lead late, yet had to scramble to escape with the win.

Washington appeared to out play Georgia over most of the court most of the first half, except often not at the rim, and fell behind by as many as 7 points, before pulling back to tie it at 28 apiece at the break.

When the Huskies have gotten in trouble this season, it has usually been because they have taken too many outside shots, and made too few of them. It was the case again in the first half against the Bulldogs, as Washington made only 2 of 14 three pointers. Coach Lorenzo Romar was able to affect an adjustment to that pattern at half time this time, though.

Washington, winners of the Pac-10 Tournament, seized control for most of the second half with a 12-2 run that opened a 40-32 lead, and at the same time got Georgia's Jeremy Price into foul trouble. But Price eventually got his game going, and helped keep the Bulldogs in the game.

With 2 minutes left, Venoy Overton's layup opened the last of Washington's largest leads of the game, 10 points, at 63-53. But a 4 point trip by Georgia, built around two Husky fouls, started a Bulldog rally that would keep the outcome in doubt until the buzzer.

After a Husky turnover, Georgia pulled within 65-60, and after Overton missed a free throw, Gerald Robinson's layup with 17 seconds left made it a one possession game.

Isaiah Thomas, who led the Huskies with 19 points, including a perfect 7 of 7 at the line for the night, reopened the lead to 67-62 with a pair of free throws, but Trey Tompkins, the game's leading scorer, answered with a three pointer with 7 seconds left to make it a two point game. Tompkins turned in a 26 point, 11 rebound double double that topped the score sheet in both categories.

The Bulldogs fouled to put C.J. Wilcox on the line, but Wilcox connected on only his first free throw, leaving the possibility of a game tieing three pointer.

Thomas deflected a long pass, forcing Travis Leslie to have to take a longer, more off balance shot from side court, and it went off the back board at the buzzer.

Scott Suggs was the only other Husky to reach double figures, with just 10 points, as Washington spread  39 points across a half dozen players. Washington got glimmers of great plays inside from Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Aziz N'Diave, and Darnell Gant, and especially some key ball movement baskets, but they got a lot more inconsistancy, which won't get the job done on Sunday when the Huskies (24-10) face second seed North Carolina (27-7).

The second seeded Tar Heels, the regular season ACC Champions, defeated Long Island University earlier in the evening in the Charlotte sub-regional 102-87.

Price finished with 11 points for the Bulldogs (21-12), and both Gerald Robinson and Leslie had 12 points.

After lofting 14 three pointers in the fist half, Washington took only 4 more after the break, and connected on 2 of them, going inside with greater frequency, and avoiding the game long shooting woes that have characterized their losses this year. Still, the Huskies only shot 43% from the field for the game, making their ability to hit 12 of their 14 free throws essential to the win.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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