According to coach Lorenzo Romar, you can’t protect a lead by scoring all at once. That patience, combined with a boneheaded foul from Seattle University center Aaron Menzies, helped the University of Washington men’s basketball team win its 11th intra-city rivalry game against Seattle University at Hec Ed Tuesday night, 79-68.
Washington clung to a tenuous 59-55 lead for several scoreless possessions when Romar called a timeout with 11:17 left to urge his players to lighten up regarding the potential upset by the civic little brothers.
“We talked about not thinking that we had to make a home-run play,” said Romar. “Sometimes, because it came easy for us at times, we think it’s going to come easy every time. But it’s not.
“Settle down, work the ball. We scored (46 points) at halftime at the same pace. We’re going to score points, we just don’t have to pick them up so quickly.”
The advice worked. The Huskies moved the ball to hot-handed reserve David Crisp, who scored 10 points in the second half’s first 10 minutes to gradually pull away.
Still, the Redhawks were a scant eight points back with 3:34 to play, when the 7-foot-3-inch Menzies grabbed a defensive rebound, drawing a reaching foul from Noah Dickerson. What followed cost Seattle U. dearly: Menzies spun to his left and extended his elbow, cold-cocking Dickerson, dropping him to his knees and causing a brief scuffle between the sides.
After a timeout and a long discussion among the referees, Menzies was called for a flagrant-foul and ejected. He walked off the floor to a cascade of boos from Huskies fans in the half-filled arena. UW senior Andrew Andrews, who led the game with 18 points, drained both free throws, and the double-digit lead held the rest of the way.
Dickerson recovered enough to return to the game. Afterward, Romar dismissed the moment of tension in a rivalry that has always offered up some element of edginess.
“In basketball, things like that happen,” said Romar, who quickly corralled his players to the bench. “There was no riot, control was kept . . . throughout the day there were a lot of basketball games, I bet you in many of them stuff like that happened.”
Despite being outmatched, the Redhawks got off to a strong start with a 12-5 run over the first 5½ minutes. That margin proved to be the Redhawks’ biggest lead. When the Huskies took a 21-20 lead with 9:36 to play in the first half off a Marquese Chriss jumper, they did so for good.
The Redhawks hung close, largely thanks to a 63.6 percent conversion rate from beyond the arc in the first half.
Crisp, a Tacoma native, scored 13 points off the bench, sinking three from downtown. Junior forward Malik Dime had a big defensive night, blocking five shots.
“(Dime) has four blocks in six minutes in the first half, he kind of set the tone,” said Romar. “There were a couple times where Seattle U players were going to the rim, and they saw Malik and passed the ball back out. He did a very good job anchoring our defense tonight.”
For the Redhawks, five players hit double digits, with sophomore guard Jadon Cohee leading with 13 points.
The Huskies host one more non-conference game against UC Santa Barbara at 8 p.m. Monday before it’s the Pac-12 lid-lifter against UCLA on New Year’s Day Seattle U. hosts a non-conference game with Cal-Davis at KeyArena at 7 p.m. Monday.