Replay decision has hand in Panthers' 75-74 road victory
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SEATTLE -- One moment they stood devastated as University of Washington players celebrated on their home court after a last-second shot by Justin Dentmon had gone through the basket. Then moments later, after the officials correctly ruled that the shot did not beat the buzzer, the Panthers exulted in the thrill of victory.
One-tenth of a second was the difference for Pitt in its wild, heart-stopping 75-74 victory against the Huskies at Bank of America Arena yesterday.
"I was thinking about the worst," Pitt junior Sam Young said. "I thought in my mind that we lost. I was just ready to accept it."
And then when the referee waved his arms?
"My heart was overjoyed," Young said. "I couldn't believe it."
The No. 12 Panthers (9-0) remained perfect, and in the process, snapped a 31-game winning streak the Huskies had on their home court against non-conference foes.
The fact that Washington had a chance to win the game at the end was controversial. Pitt junior Levance Fields stepped to the free-throw line with 5.5 seconds remaining and the Panthers clinging to a one-point lead.
Fields missed the front end of a one and one, and freshman DeJuan Blair grabbed the rebound cleanly. One of the officials ruled that Washington's Jon Brockman got his hands on the ball and called for a jump ball. The Huskies had the possession arrow and were awarded the ball.
"It was in my arms," Blair said. "If you look at the replay, he held my arm. It was a crucial call."
The Huskies had a chance to win, albeit a long shot with 4.3 seconds remaining. Dentmon accepted the inbound pass, dribbled up the sideline and then cut toward the middle and into the lane, lofting a shot that bounced off the rim and through the net.
The officials immediately went to the television monitors at courtside to review the play. The replays clearly showed that the shot did not leave his hand until after the clock ticked to 0:00.
"I've never been in a situation like that and hope never to be again," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "What was that, about an hour and half standing [and waiting]? But the players kept coming over and saying that it wasn't good. Then we saw some people at the table saying it wasn't good. I kind of had an inkling. The players were convinced."
Maybe Dentmon would have been better off pulling up and taking a 3-pointer. Every other 3-point shot the Huskies took seemed to go in. They made 11 of 24 from behind the 3-point line, including four in the final 3:24 that helped them overcome a nine-point deficit with a little more than six minutes remaining.
And it wasn't like Pitt played poorly down the stretch to let the Huskies back into the game. The Panthers overcame a three-point halftime deficit by shooting 61 percent in the second half and only had two turnovers in the final 20 minutes.
Pitt got six points on three of its final four possessions. About the only thing that went wrong for the Panthers was Fields missing a one-and-one opportunity and having the jump-ball call go against them.
"It was good to see our guys come together at the end," Dixon said. "When they kept making tough shots, we made plays, too. We made big plays. We grew up a lot today. Our young group grew up a lot today."
The youngest of the group played one of the biggest roles. Blair had 16 points and 14 rebounds. He scored 12 of those points in the second half after going 2 for 6 from the field in the first half.
What was most impressive about the performance was that it came against Brockman, a junior and one of the top players in the Pacific-10 Conference. Blair and Brockman were often matched against one another.
"He was playing against one of the best players in the country in Brockman, so start with that," Dixon said. "This is as tough a place to play as there is. He made big plays all the way through. He's getting better and he's a great teammate. He's a fun kid to have around."
The other Panthers player who provided a big lift was junior point guard Fields, who scored a game-high 20 points, 13 of which came in the first half when Young was on the bench in foul trouble and the rest of his teammates were struggling.
"I went to a pull-up jump shot, and I got into a good rhythm," Fields said.
Young scored eight of his 14 points in the final 4:44. Senior guard Mike Cook also had 14 for the Panthers, who start a season 9-0 for the sixth consecutive time.
Ryan Appleby, seeing his first action of the season because of thumb surgery, led Washington with 18 points, all on 3-pointers.
NOTES -- Freshman forward Austin Wallace did not dress for the game after his knee was injured in practice Friday. He is scheduled for an MRI today.
First Published December 9, 2007 12:00 am