SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington coach Lorenzo Romar took a seat in the
interview room, adjusted the microphone and started gushing about
his point guard.
Will Conroy had 11 points and seven assists, and Romar credited
his leadership and defense for carrying Washington (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today; No. 13 AP) to an
81-67 victory over California in the Pac-10 opener for both teams
"Will Conroy came up big in the intangible area," Romar said.
"He was a warrior down the stretch. He got rebounds. He defended
extremely well. ... If Will's not on the floor tonight, I don't
know if we win."
"That's why I love playing with this team: Nobody can key on
one guy," Conroy said. "When a team can't key on one guy, that's
a beautiful thing."
Richard Midgley led California (7-4) with 18 points, but
Conroy's defense held him scoreless over the last 11 minutes.
Marquise Kately scored 15 for the Golden Bears, Rod Benson had 12
and David Paris 11.
The Huskies won their seventh straight overall, the most since
1990-91, but it wasn't as easy as the final score suggested.
This was a grind-it-out victory. Washington blew a 16-point lead
and then overcame a series of small deficits in the second half.
The Huskies also survived a nine-point effort by standout guard
"Give Cal a lot of credit for executing their game plan,"
Romar said. "Give our guys credit for still being able to win."
The Bears tied it at 60 on a jumper by Kately, then went ahead
61-60 with 8:46 remaining on a free throw by DeVon Hardin, but
that's when the Huskies organized a decisive 10-0 run.
Williams made free throws and a nice reverse layup, and
Washington led 64-61 at the 8-minute mark. Jones added a free throw
and Simmons hit two more to give Washington a 67-61 lead with 6:15
Simmons made a three-point play, and Jones was the beneficiary
of a goaltending call and an unselfish feed when Conroy passed up a
layup in the open lane.
"That was a statement on how I've been playing this year,"
Conroy said. "I thought Bobby was going to catch it and dunk. If
he dunked, he could get the crowd into it a little more. But he
made the layup and I was happy."
Soon, the Huskies were safely ahead 74-64 with 3:47 remaining.
Washington forced Cal into a season-high 26 turnovers.
"Silly turnovers and unforced mistakes," Kately said. "They
applied a lot of pressure, but it was just us making silly
The Bears trailed 41-32 at halftime but cut it to 47-42 early in
the second half with three straight baskets by Dominic McGuire,
Paris and Benson. Midgley tied it at 49 on a 3-pointer with 13:26
During a timeout, Conroy told his teammates he would guard
"I'm not scoring this year like I've usually scored, but I
guess people are noticing the little things I'm doing," Conroy
said. "When we couldn't get a stop on Midgley, I'm the guy who
said, 'I'm guarding him."
California led for the first time at 53-51 after two free throws
by Kevin Langford with 12:23 remaining. Midgley's 3-pointer put the
Bears ahead 56-53 with 11:19 to play, but he didn't score the rest
of the way.
"Midgley was having his way with us," Romar said. "Down the
stretch, Will and our team did a good job."
"We established ourselves but we let things get away near the
end," California coach Ben Braun said. "It was a learning
experience for our team because we're playing a lot of guys that
aren't used to playing very many minutes."
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