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UW vs. Seattle U: Redhawks Compete, Huskies Rely On Talent Gap To Win 95-74

With 10:44 left in the second half at KeyArena tonight, 6-foot-8 Seattle University Redhawks forward Alex Jones found himself among three Washington Huskies players on the right block with seemingly nowhere to go.

Despite the odds, Jones took a few pivots to try to create some space before finally just going up right into seven foot UW center Aziz N'Diaye and managing to draw a foul.

That's pure heart and making something out of nothing and the type of effort the Redhawks have put in all season that makes them worth watching.

Then Jones stepped to the line and hit one of two free throws.

Then the Huskies proceeded to score six points on the next three possessions.

In a sense, that's pretty much how the whole game went, but especially the second half: the Redhawks would find a way to create an opportunity for themselves, the Huskies athleticism overwhelmed them, and the Huskies blitzed them with another mini-run.

The Redhawks competed, played hard, and at moments perhaps you could even say they played over their heads. But ultimately, the Huskies had talent on their side and that made all the difference.

"The one thing with the talent gap that you account for at times is just that fatigue and the talent kind of just wearing on you," said Dollar. "That happens. So speed of the game, how fast they come at you, how consistent they are in being able to make the play - you can't account for that at times."

Nevertheless, this was still an impressive game for Seattle U not only because they cut last year's scoring margin in half, but also because they accomplished at least one thing that one might have figured was a struggle coming in: they won the turnover battle by a narrow margin.

"From a fans perspective it was an exciting game," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar after the game. "You gotta give a lot of credit to Seattle U - they were scrappy and forced us into 17 turnovers."

But it wasn't only what the Redhawks did to their cross-town visitors - in the first half, they only committed five turnovers themselves, which was a significant factor in keeping the game close, especially considering their 32.3 percent first half shooting.

"We moved the ball well and took advantage of some of them really getting up in us," said Dollar, immediately shifting the focus to the 11 second half turnovers. "Then that's when I say that training comes in to where you just move and you scrap and you're tougher with the ball passing it and you just stick to what's working. A lot times kids don't stop doing what's working all of a sudden because they decide they don't want to want to do it anymore."

We as fans might look at this game and commend Seattle U for staying closer than a number of other UW opponents, but it was also an illustration of how far they have to go. An obvious focal point of this game might be the Redhawks' inability to contain the Huskies' post players - UW forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning had a double-double with a team-high 24 points and 13 rebounds while center Aziz N'Diaye chippd in with 15 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, and an assist for good measure.

Yet perhaps more noteworthy for Dollar was the Redhawks poor ball movement, particularly in the first half - they only finished with 10 assists for the game - and three assists on 10 made shots in the first half, which was insufficient for Dollar's tastes to say the least.

"We shouldn't have had 10 assists in that game," said Dollar, concisely yet emphatically. "We should've had 20."

Obviously fans might use this game as a measuring stick for both ways: in winning this game almost entirely by leveraging a talent gap, it wasn't necessarily the type of performance that the Huskies would need to get through the remainder of Pac-10 play - including the tournament - and into the Big Dance. In competing better than last season, even for a half, it's not difficult to construe this game as an example of the further evolution of the Redhawks.

"I mean even from the gap from last year, that's a huge jump, just to compete tonight" said Redhawks guard Cervante Burrell who finished with a game-high 26 points, four assists, and two steals. "So I feel that next year will be another jump. And who knows, we may win next year. I know that's what I'm trying to do in my last year is win."

However in experiencing the talent gap in a loss at home in front of a record crowd of 11,386, Dollar sees the game as an example of how far the Redhawks have to go.

"Like I told the team, you need to be on auto-pilot when you play these games," said Dollar. "And you can't come into them now and try to be more disciplined or pass the ball more, cut harder, move - you need to be a machine to where you take care of that stuff. We're not quite there yet, obviously, and that's my responsibility to get us there...That's on me to try to get them better and improve so that we can sustain longer on offense and defense."