Three losses while banging inside the Pac-10 equivalent of salt mines left Washington thirsting for room to breathe.
Hello, Oregon, the Huskies' newest get-well card.
Jon Brockman scored 21 points and had 16 rebounds while Ryan Appleby emerged from a deep funk to score a season-high 19 as Washington defeated the freewheeling Ducks again 78-70 Thursday night for the Huskies' first Pac-10 win of the season.
"The pace was fine. Getting up and down, we don't mind that," grinning Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said, exhaling with his team after exploiting the Pac-10's worst defense.
Brockman looked like a freed tiger following consecutive lock-downs against rugged Washington State, UCLA and Southern California. He got his conference-leading 11th double-double of the season for Washington (10-7, 1-3 Pac-10), one more than Maarty Leunen.
"Those other games were kind of grind-it-out. We beat each other up, really," Brockman said.
"I think we took advantage of their defensive sets."
Leunen scored 22 points to go with his six rebounds for the Ducks (12-5, 3-2), who next play at No. 8 Washington State (15-1) on Sunday.
Leunen overpowered Quincy Pondexter for a 3-point play with 3:12 left to pull Oregon to within 68-65, after it had trailed by 10 moments earlier. But Brockman tipped in his own miss and, after two free throws by Oregon's Malik Hairston, Appleby swished his fifth 3-pointer in 10 tries off a leaping pass out of the lane by freshman point guard Venoy Overton. That put Washington up 73-67 with 1:15 left.
"I knew I'd get open looks," Appleby said of Oregon's part-time defense.
"I didn't score any points in the last two games, but I'm a shooter and I've always been a shooter. And I never thought twice about shooting again."
The crowd roared its approval of his clinching shot as Appleby hopped up and down in place, mimicking the sign bouncing about the Washington student section that read "Oregon: We're above you."
And not just geographically. The Huskies have won six of their last eight games against the Ducks, who reached the round of eight in last spring's NCAA tournament and had won three consecutive conference games &
including over ranked rivals Arizona and Stanford. Washington beat Oregon in Seattle for the seventh consecutive time dating to 2001, its longest such run since 1983-1989.
Hairston added 20 points for Oregon, which never lead after 19-17 early.
Appleby had gone 2-for-15 shooting in his first three Pac-10 games and 0-for-7 in his last two but hit his first three shots, all from 3-point range. He then scored eight consecutive points &
including a baseline runner and then two open 3-pointers that put Washington ahead 61-53 with 9:20 left. He finished 7-for-12 overall.
"Ha! Guess what our game plan was: take Appleby completely out," Ducks coach Ernie Kent said mockingly, following the strategy successfully employed by the Trojans, Bruins and Cougars before him. "Then he makes his first three shots ... and a couple of times we didn't even guard him.
"For being in a slump, he hit some big buckets. We made him well. He made a few when the net didn't even move much."
Brockman had been double-teamed for weeks. But Thursday, the 6-foot-7 bulldog thrived while singled up with wiry, 6-foot-6 guard Churchill Odia or Leunen, Oregon's only frontcourt starter in its four-guard scheme.
"It was different. I think we did a good job of capitalizing on it," Brockman said of Oregon using a lone, relative duckling against him.
Oregon, the team that shoots the most 3-pointers in the conference, made five of its first seven such shots &
then died by them. The Ducks made just five of their next 18 3-pointers as Washington surged ahead by 10.
Now, they get their opposite in style and results Sunday in Pullman. Oregon has beaten Washington State 13 consecutive times.
"I can imagine what their conversations will be over there," Kent said.
"We're going to get a different team &
one of the best teams in the country. But if you can split on the road (over a weekend trip) in this conference, you should jump up and down and do somersaults."
Brockman, Appleby lead UW to upset of Oregon