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Originally published February 27, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 27, 2009 at 12:12 AM

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UW's Justin Dentmon goes from goat to hero

Huskies' big victory over Arizona State includes a scoreless first half, some big shots, some equally big mistakes, and, finally, some huge free throws by Justin Dentmon.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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In the biggest game of his Washington Huskies career, Justin Dentmon started slowly against Arizona State, played like a star in the second half before committing two costly errors at the end of regulation and finding redemption in overtime.

Washington's 73-70 overtime victory on Thursday at Edmundson Pavilion had so many twists and turns for Dentmon, who played the role of goat, hero, goat and hero again.

He went scoreless in the first half and missed all six of his shots. And despite missing eight previous three-pointers, Dentmon drained a three-pointer in the corner in front of the Huskies bench to draw the UW even. Then he dropped in an off-balance, midrange jumper that gave Washington a two-point lead with 46 seconds left.

After Arizona State guard James Harden missed a short jumper on the ensuing possession, Dentmon had the ball in his hands in the backcourt.

All he had to do was dribble out the clock, but Harden poked the ball away in the backcourt for a steal and an uncontested dunk that tied the game with 12 seconds left. A stunned Dentmon allowed precious seconds to tick away, then lost the ball before attempting a shot in regulation.

"I was looking at the clock. I was thinking we had a timeout," Dentmon said. "I was hoping they were going to foul me. I should have given it up. It was a selfish move on my end. I regret that. I almost gave it away. I blame myself."

The Huskies (21-7, 12-4 Pac-10) pushed their conference lead to 1 ½ games, following seniors Dentmon and Jon Brockman.

"For about five seconds, he hung his head down and our team just did a great job lifting him up saying, 'Don't worry about it — we win and we lose as a group,' " Brockman said. "I sat down next to him and said 'Justin, you're going to be able to win this game for us, you'll get another shot at it.' He hit a huge shot at the end, he's the reason why we won."

With Brockman scoring four of his team-high 21 points in overtime, Dentmon added six points from the free-throw line as UW outscored Arizona State 12-9 in the extra period.

Dentmon's biggest play in overtime came on a missed shot. He dribbled hard into the lane for a wild layup that proved pivotal because Harden collected his fifth foul and was disqualified with 2:46 remaining in OT. He left with 19 points on 7-for-19 shooting.

"I knew he had four fouls, but not at that moment," Dentmon said. "What was on my mind the most was trying to get a layup or draw a foul at the end of the shot clock."

After a pair of Brockman layups early in OT, the Sun Devils were forced to foul Dentmon. He made amends for his late gaffe with sure ball-handling in the final minutes.

"You always feel good when you can make up for mistakes," he said. "And that was a big mistake."

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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