SEATTLE (AP)—Washington didn’t just beat rugged UCLA. The Huskies beat up the big, bad Bruins—literally socked one of them in the nose.
Justin Dentmon, benched in favor of a freshman for most of the season, scored 20 points and completely took Darren Collison out of the game defensively to lead previously wayward Washington to a 71-61 upset of No. 5 UCLA on Sunday.
With UCLA down 66-61 with 47 seconds left because the Huskies had squandered much of a nine-point lead at the foul line, Washington’s Tim Morris was about to get called for a five-second violation on an inbound play. Instead, he threw the ball off the nose of Alfred Aboya, who was guarding him closely across the boundary line, and it banged into an incensed UCLA bench.
The Huskies retained possession and Jon Brockman, who had 12 points and 17 rebounds, scored. Ryan Appleby added two free throws following a steal to put Washington (13-11, 4-7 Pac-10) up 70-61. The upset, accompanied by a wild celebration, was back on.
“He just threw it off the kid’s face,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said of Morris’ sneaky trick.
When asked if that is OK, perhaps by the unwritten code of how to play the game, Howland shot back, “No.”
“The official said there is nothing he can do,” Howland said. “So I guess legally you can do it.”
Dentmon entered for Venoy Overton in the game’s first minute, after coach Lorenzo Romar benched the freshman for not running back on defense. Dentmon then took over for the Huskies, who had lost four straight—the last three at home.
Washington won its fourth consecutive home game against the Bruins dating to 2004. The Huskies are now 11-68 against teams ranked in the top 5, stretching back to 1950. Their previous win at home over such a foe was last March, against then-No. 2 UCLA.
“Coach asked me last week, ‘What’s gotten into you?’ I told him I just kept having these dreams of playing above my abilities,” Dentmon said. “Constantly, every night. It’s been weird.”
So was Washington’s unlikely resurrection against UCLA (21-3, 9-2), which lost for the first time in six games to fall into a first-place tie with Stanford in the Pac-10.
“They out-toughed us, out-hustled us. We just didn’t have it today,” said Josh Shipp, who led the Bruins with 19 points.
Collison took responsibility for the lack of fire—plus his season-low three points on 1-for-8 shooting, with four assists and eight turnovers. He was averaging 14.6 points coming in, and had scored all 18 of his points Thursday in the second half to lead a win at No. 17 Washington State.
“We didn’t have the same fight we had the last few games,” Collison said. “I take full blame. I’m the leader. I’m the captain. I have to step up.”
Three days after a blowout bow-down to Southern California that embarrassed them and challenged their pride, the Huskies bore into a team that has been to the Final Four in each of the last two seasons. They sprinted and dived to win loose balls. They had the bulk of Artem Wallace to push Bruins super freshman Kevin Love out of the lane and into frustration.
They also had Morris’ impromptu pass into Aboya’s face.
“Lot of cheap shots going on throughout the game,” said UCLA’s Russell Westbrook, who scored 18 points. “They did what they had to do.”
Aboya, stunned, walked the nearby baseline for a spell to gather his senses after Morris’ saving play. Bruins players yelled at Morris, “Don’t do that again!”
Morris said Howland demanded that he “Back up!”
Aboya said he didn’t know if Morris had delivered a cheap shot.
“I never knew his intention, if he did it on purpose,” Aboya said. “He did apologize, though.
“It did hurt, but that’s the game.”
In one rousing afternoon, the Huskies turned around a season that seemed adrift.
“If you’ve got any pride at all, you are going to bounce back,” Romar said. “I was shocked our season had turned the way it did. Today, you saw why.”
Dentmon heeded his coaches’ calls to attack Collison, after the Bruins’ star picked up his third foul on a technical 32 seconds after halftime. Dentmon scored 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting the rest of the way, as Collison backed off to avoid a fourth foul.
Love, the Bruins’ leading scorer at 17.7 points per game coming in, missed five of his first seven shots while trading shoves with Wallace. Wallace is two inches shorter than the 6-foot-10 Love, but continually used his comparable bulk to lean into the 271-pound Love on the low blocks.
Love finished with 13 points on just 3-of-8 shooting, with 10 rebounds.
“I was frustrated,” Love said, using the same word he used Thursday after getting only eight shots at Washington State. “I was looking for the ball. … I felt I was open and my teammates didn’t find me.”