BY Anthony Dion 09:01PM 12/14/2014

Huskies rally, outlast Eastern Washington 81-77

If Sunday’s contest was any indication, the University of Washington basketball team still has a ways to go to become the legitimate March Madness contender it aspires to be. That said, a tireless 81-77 come-from-behind victory over Eastern Washington (8-2) at Alaska Airlines Arena showed some heart and should pay dividends during an exhausting Pac-12 conference slate.

“That’s a character win, again,” head coach Lorenzo Romar said. “UTEP, Long Beach State, this one, these are wins that when we play in our conference we will be able to draw from and gain confidence from.”

Robert Upshaw scored 24 points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked six shots to lead Washington (8-0) to its best start since going 11-0 to begin the 2005-06 season. Despite finishing 5-for-14 from the foul line, Upshaw stepped up in consecutive trips to the line with 3:11 and 2:57 to play, respectively, making 3-for-4 to close to 68-67.

Upshaw said he mentally checked himself after early struggles (0-for-7 from the line).

“I talk to myself and just try to keep poise,” Upshaw said. “(I tell myself), ‘Hold your follow-through. Make this basket, we need this one.’”

The free throws set up Washington for its first lead of the second half a minute later when Upshaw tapped home a Nigel Williams-Goss miss with 1:27 remaining. The tip-in gave the Huskies a 71-70 lead, and after a stop on the defensive end, Williams-Goss hit a 3-pointer.

Williams-Goss scored 19 points and Andrew Andrews 18 behind a 12-for-13 effort at the line to aid Upshaw in the comeback win.

The Huskies trailed the Big Sky Conference team most of the night. After they took a 16-15 lead with 13:05 to play, the Huskies didn’t hold the advantage until Upshaw’s tip at 1:27.

Each time Washington made a run, the Eagles had an answer. Ognjen Miljkovic made three big 3-pointers while Drew Brandon and Tyler Harvey made a series of key shots to keep Eastern Washington ahead. Harvey had 21 points and Brandon added 16 and nine rebounds.

“I think we were a little rattled,” Upshaw said. “They were making shots . . . I think we just had to settle down, get back to what we did in practice and that’s what we did.”

Playing in their first game ranked in the Associated Press poll since February 2011, the Huskies drew on recent experiences against Seattle University and Long Beach State, in which they trailed at halftime.

“I think it’s just a tribute to our poise. We were down double-digits at halftime (and) we stayed together,” Williams-Goss said. “You saw last year that we lost a lot of close games, a lot of games that could’ve went either way, that got away from us. This year we’re trying to make all (the games) count, not let any games slip.”

Washington’s defense, which held No. 13 San Diego State to 20 percent shooting and 11 total field goals Dec. 7, was tested by the Eagles. Eastern finished 25-for-68 from the field, shooting 37 percent while enduring 12 blocked shots. Take away the challenges in the paint, and Eastern was quite deadly from the field.

“We knew this was a really good basketball team,” Romar said. “I thought we did a really good job, we pulled it together, and really, really gathered ourselves. We whittled away at their lead through defense and some guys hit some big shots.”

The Huskies host Grambling Wednesday before traveling to Oklahoma Saturday.


  • Jamo57

    Football or basketball score?

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      God I hope the football team never needs 81 points to win by 4… in a game like that giving up 77 ? Shaq would be disgusted to have his name next to that Defense….

      • Jamo57

        Well, they did give up 52 to the EWU football program this year. Hence the attempt at humor.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Actually that is a pretty good point… watching that game i was wondering when the bleeding would stop. It never did.

          • Jamo57

            Well, the EWU QB was playing out of his mind. I think taking that game and the Apple Cup as bookends makes me feel pretty good about the coaching staff going forward. Granted they lose a lot of talent after the bowl game, but the secondary really improved a lot over the course of the season. I’m hopeful this regime will put a good product out on the field as their program settles in.

          • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

            Your on point on that one too~EWUs Vernon Adams Jr. was simply amazing in that game and was/is All~ American in their league.No shame to his talents. He was simply afire that day and the Dawgs weathered it with a phenomenal performance of their own…like many of CPs past Boise squads have done over the years?Huskies just outscored the other team. Who wanted to see a 6~3 game anyway in College…leave that for a few NFC West tilts in the pros in the future. I think you are right about the Huskies turnover in personnel.
            CP is adept at recruiting and any of the GoldenTate types that want to put up extraordinary numbers in catching the ball will want to play for Coach Pete…it may take 2~3 good years but watch out Oregon.Huskies plan to have duck for thanksgiving real soon~a feather plucking is due.
            He will build us the proto~type to take down the big ~billed machine (mallard beak pun intended but there’s some pretty big Green Bills churning thru that program too). By the end of the decade we will be Ultra competitive with that Obnoxious Eugene bunch. Go Huskies.

  • jafabian

    Upshaw is what the Dawgs have needed the past couple seasons. A front line with him, Kemp and Jarreau is daunting. I like seeing that #17 next to the school’s name in the rankings!

  • Schaefdawg

    This team is tantalizing, maybe, could be, if they….. Sure hope so!! GO DAWGS!!!!