SEATTLE (AP)—Washington coach Lorenzo Romar asked his leaders to lead.
They did Saturday night.
Jamaal Williams scored 20 points, Brandon Roy scored 19 and Bobby Jones added 15 as Washington’s three seniors turned what Romar called leadership “discussions” into a 78-59 victory over Oregon.
It was only the fifth time in 18 games the seniors were the top three scorers for Washington (16-2, 5-2 Pac-10), which also starts two freshmen.
Malik Hairston scored 17 points and reserve Brandon Lincoln added 12 for Oregon, which lost for the 13th time in 14 games against ranked teams—one week after it upset then-No. 24 Arizona at home. The Ducks (10-9, 4-3) also saw their three-game winning streak end.
Washington, meanwhile, saw how leadership can work wonders.
And those seniors did more than score.
Williams continually harassed Malik Hairston defensively. Oregon’s leading scorer finished with 17 points—but on 6-for-18 shooting.
Roy, whom Romar calls Washington’s “best on-ball defender,” stymied point guard and Seattle native Aaron Brooks. Roy held the man whom he has played with and against since third grade to four points—Brooks’ lowest output in 17 games.
“This is the first night me, Bobby and Jamaal all got on the same page. We were clicking,” said Roy, the Huskies’ leading scorer at 18.2 points per game entering Saturday.
“We have made a conscious effort to come together and lead—just because we think that’s how our team can be its best.”
The Huskies moved into a tie with UCLA for first place by winning their fourth straight conference game since stunning, consecutive home losses to Arizona and Washington State. They also buried the unsightly reminders of Thursday, when they missed their first 11 shots in a tedious win over Oregon State.
Williams had the most to bury. He scored just four points on 2-for-12 shooting against the Beavers. But he was 10-for-14 against Oregon. He repeatedly made lofting, rainbow shots from the baseline over flatfooted Ducks.
“I don’t who that guy was playing the other night,” Williams said. “Tonight was the real Jamaal.”
And these were more like the real Huskies. The national scoring leaders, averaging 87.3 points per game coming in, cracked 70 for the first time in three games.
The return to normal became apparent immediately; The Huskies made their first three shots. Yet they trailed 20-16 midway through the first half, as Oregon initially succeeded in controlling the game with its new, deliberate, half-court style.
But then Williams made three straight jump shots to spark a 21-4 run that lasted until the final seconds before halftime. When he left the game halfway through the run, Romar excitedly slapped him on the backside and patted his back and head for turning the coach’s words into decisive action.
Jones had two 3-pointers and Roy added one to continue the run and vault Washington into a 37-24 lead. The Huskies finished the first half 16-for-32 from the field—after beginning Thursday 1-for-17.
Jones’ layup and a 3-pointer put the Ducks in a 48-31 hole 2:45 into the second half. And when deep shooter Ryan Appleby made his first 3-pointer in five tries with 10:47 to go, Washington was cruising at 60-39.
“We talked about withstanding their initial run, the first five minutes (after halftime), when they put a lot of teams away in this building,” Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. “In the second half, things got away from us a little bit.”
Oregon did rally to 66-55 with 6:22 left after five straight points from Bryce Taylor. But the Ducks then missed a free throw and committed a shot-clock violation on successive possessions.
The Huskies scored the next eight points to seal their fourth straight win over Oregon.
Washington plays five of its next seven games on the road—beginning next weekend at California and Stanford.
Which is largely why Romar had his leadership “discussions” when he did.