Jon Brockman raised his arms above his shoulders and on cue 10,000 followers obediently rose to their feet in full voice. After four years of blue-collar service to Washington, Brockman was rewarded Saturday with an accomplishment nearly a quarter century in the making – ownership of a Pacific-10 Conference regular-season basketball title.
Spurred on by Brockman’s 19 points and the dynamic talent of diminutive guard Isaiah Thomas, who also scored 19, the 21st-ranked Huskies clinched at least a tie for the Pac-10 regular-season championship by rallying for an 83-78 win over Arizona in Seattle.
“I knew this team was capable of it, but all of us questioned a little bit if this team was going to be able to come together as a group,” Brockman said. “I’m so proud of these guys and the way we were able to come together. … It’s way more special than I thought.”
It’s the first time the Huskies (22-7, 13-4) can claim part of a conference title since 1985 when the international duo of Chris Welp and Detlef Schrempf lifted Washington into a tie for the league crown with USC. Washington can claim the outright league title with a win over Washington State on Saturday or a loss by UCLA in its final two games.
That’s why the celebration was mostly muted, despite a stirring second-half rally when Washington raced back from down 10 points, then hit clutch free throws in the final 3 minutes to hold on.
Washington’s last outright conference title came in 1953.
“You’ve got to enjoy it. The way we won, came back and rallied together,” Brockman said. “It wasn’t pretty by any means. We can celebrate for a little bit.”
(22) UCLA 72, California 68: Darren Collison scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half and the Bruins took sole possession of second place in the conference with a win over the Golden Bears in Berkeley, Calif.
Jerome Randle scored 20 points to top Cal, which had won five of its last six games.
Stanford 75, USC 63: Anthony Goods had 20 points, Kenny Brown hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 as the Cardinal snapped a four-game skid – their longest losing streak in 16 years – with a win over the Trojans in Stanford, Calif.
Taj Gibson had 19 points and nine rebounds for USC.
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