The University of Washington Student Newspaper Monday, March 10, 1997
Washington throws the Book at Southern Cal MEN'S HOOPS | Senior Jamie Booker goes out with flourish, Huskies use defensive intensity to overcome mistakes Milah Frownfelter Daily Staff
The motivation was unquestionable. There was no doubt for whom this game was played.The lone senior. The linchpin of UW coach Bob Bender's program for the last four years. The unwavering leader, selfless in body, confident in mind. Jamie Booker.“I think everybody knew how important this game was to Jamie and therefore, the game was important for everybody,” said center Todd MacCulloch.Amid purple placards inked with “Thanks, Book!” and a human exclamation to the guard ó 6 die-hard fans each sporting a letter in his name as big as life on T-shirts ó the Huskies (9-8 Pac-10, 17-10 overall) responded. On Saturday, using tenacious defense and timely shooting the UW dispatched the Trojans 94-84 to earn its best record in nine years. The win avenged an earlier 19-point loss to USC.“I think the greatest compliment to Jamie was what his teammates did for him today,” Bender said.Though the game was inspired by Booker, the victory was attained without his physical presence on the floor for much of the time ó he sat out for nearly 13 minutes in the second half saddled with 4 fouls. Yet in Booker's absence, his on-court personality was manifested in the play of his teammates. Guard Jan Wooten flew over press row to retrieve a ball hopelessly out of reach. Center Patrick Femerling ó who finished with nine points and 10 boards ó laid his body out on two charges. MacCulloch, with a windmill of arms, scrambled for three steals. Forward Deon Luton hit the big shots on 6-of-6 field goals, including a trio of three-pointers.“We see Jamie going out there on the scorers' table and it get's us excited,” said forward Mark Sanford. “We see him fall and get right back up ready to go again and I think it gets everybody up.”Bender added, “It took what [Booker's] instilled in this program for four years for us to win this game. That's pride. We had guys that kind of took over Jamie's personality for us out there.”That Husky pride surfaced in ways that had been missing all season. Washington countered a school-record 34 turnovers ó due to an aggressive USC trap ó with well-timed defensive stops. “Our turnovers, while they hurt us,” Bender said, “on the defensive end, we sustained it. That's not what's happened in the past, when we'd turn it over and give up transition layups.”A 10-2 Trojan run that whittled the UW's lead to ten just before halftime didn't rattle the Huskies as Sanford ó who paced the UW with 21 points in just 26 minutes ó and guard Donald Watts each sunk two free throws to cut the surge short.“We just wouldn't let [the game] get away from us,” Sanford said. “Whatever they did, we came down and we just capitalized. We stayed poised and stayed within our offense.”The Huskies' offense was as fluid as ever. Mid-air adjustments on the fastbreak produced lay-ins. Step-back fade away jumpers eluded defenders' harrying reaches. Unselfish passing meant point-blank range daggers on the inside. Kick-outs on the low post left the perimeter open for the long bomb.So effective was Washington's game-plan that it shot an unstoppable 80-percent from the field in the second half on the way to a season-best 61.5-percent shooting total. The Huskies were deadly from beyond the arc shooting 8-of-13 from three-point range.Despite the UW's offensive arsenal, USC had their chances to climb back in the game ó for a stretch of ten minutes, leading scorer Sanford and Booker both sat the bench in foul trouble. With them out, senior Roderick Rhodes ó who finished with a game-high 32 points including 4-of-5 three-pointers ó and sophomore Elias Ayuso found the hot hand. Rhodes had two consecutive dunks and a three-pointer and Ayuso hit for eight points. The lead was down to six. It could have been worse, but MacCulloch and Luton prevented the two streakers from getting the upper hand by matching them shot for shot.“When [Mark and Jamie] were out we knew that we all had to come together and play solid defense,” Luton said. “We had to wait and try to hold them down until they came back in.”The Trojans were held down the entire game, hassled into 35-percent shooting for the game and 20 turnovers, which led to 22 UW points.
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