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Washington's free throws sink Northern Iowa

Nov 15, 2006 - 5:58 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Washington had to settle for safer shots against Northern Iowa, but they proved to be just as important.

Justin Dentmon scored 17 points and the 15th-ranked Huskies made eight straight free throws in the final 81 seconds to hold off Northern Iowa, 70-61, in the Basketball Travelers Classic.

One night after Washington rained in a school-record 17 3-pointers in a 102-74 romp over Nicholls State, it found a much tougher going against Northern Iowa, which won 23 games last season and lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

"This was a great opportunity for us to step up and see what we were made of," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "It was one of those games where it's like the water is cold and they pushed us right in. We had to learn how to survive right there, we had to learn how to swim."

Spencer Hawes, the Huskies' highly touted 7-foot freshman, made the biggest splash to help turn the game in his team's favor.

After making two foul shots to give Washington a 60-56 lead with 2:31 left, Hawes blocked a shot by Eric Coleman that led to a breakaway layup by Dentmon and a six-point cushion with 1:59 remaining.

"Spencer Hawes came through in the second half and did a nice job on the block for us," Romar said. "That block helped us win the game, but it was definitely a team effort and we got it done. I am proud of our guys."

The Panthers never got closer than four points the rest of the way as the Huskies went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line, including four by Dentmon.

Hawes had 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for Washington, which shot 42 percent (24-of-57) overall but 50 percent in the second half.

"He is really good. If it wasn't the hook shot, it was the turnaround. And if wasn't the left hand, it was the right hand," Northern Iowa coach Rich Glas said of Hawes. "He has a soft touch on it, and I was just waiting for one or two to miss, and he finally missed one. We were still in the position to take the lead again. He is really good, as advertised. They just play so hard."

Though Washington enjoyed a sizable height advantage, it was unable to contain Northern Iowa's forward tandem of Grant Stout and Coleman.

Stout had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Coleman added 16 and nine before fouling out with 1:21 to play.

"Their big guys are seniors and they're tough, that's a pretty good combination," Romar said. "Stout is really skilled and Coleman is really good around the basket. We were a little concerned about those two guys and they kind of had their way with us in the first half. We did a nice job in the second half covering them and staying out of foul trouble."

The Panthers twice built leads of eight points in the first half but Ryan Appleby scored five straight points to pull the Huskies within 25-22 with 4:22 left in the half.

Northern Iowa's man-to-man defense disrupted Washington, which had scored 99 and 102 points in its opening two games.

The Panthers had five steals and scored 15 points off turnovers in taking a 31-28 halftime lead.

"Our guys believed we were going to be in the game until the end, and we believed we were going to win the basketball game and that is a credit to our guys," Glas said. "We knew it was going to be loud. We knew Washington was very good; they are very well coached. But we expect when we walk on the floor to win the basketball game."

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