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March 12, 2011LOS ANGELES - The battle of the Northwest had a definite northern emphasis at Staples Center Friday night.
Washington withstood a second-half charge from Oregon and finished strong, closing out a 69-51 win over the Ducks in the semifinal round of the Pacific-10 Tournament.
The Huskies (22-10) reached the championship game for the second straight season and will face top-seeded Arizona Friday at 3 p.m.
The two teams split the regular-season series, the home team winning each game. The last time they played, on Feb. 19, Arizona finished with an 87-86 victory in Tucson.
It will be a battle between the team that won the Pac-10 regular-season title and the team that picked to win before the season began and it will be the second time these two teams have met in the finals. Washington has won both games.
Washington earned its spot with a strong defensive effort, holding the Ducks to their second-lowest scoring output the season. Oregon shot 32.1 percent for the game after a slow start in which they scored just four points in almost seven minutes.
"Our zone helped us," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. "I think maybe it slowed them down a little bit and didn't allow them to get going, and they can get going."
On the offensive end, it was a team effort for Washington.
Eight players scored for the Huskies. Four players ended up in double figures including C.J. Wilcox with 14 points, Terrence Ross with 13 points. Isaiah Thomas and Scott Suggs added 10 each.
"It's a second game in a row that we had a team contribution and that's something that can excite you as a coach," Romar said.
Thomas finished with a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists, which tied the tournament record.
"I found my teammates and they were knocking down shots," Thomas said. "I can't do it without my teammates."
Washington led Oregon 30-21 at the half despite the fact that the teams were nearly even in field-goals made and rebounds. But the Huskies were 7 of 10 from the line and that was the difference.
Oregon, a No. 7 seed that made a great tournament run, closed the gap to 44-40, but the Huskies were able to hold Oregon to just 11 points over the final 10 minutes and pull away. Wilcox had 11 of his points in the second half.
The Ducks finished their first season under coach Dana Altman at 16-17.
Oregon was led by Joevan Catron, who played in foul trouble much of the game, led the Ducks with 18 points and nine rebounds.
And now a finals matchup between two of the best teams in the conference in recent years.
"They got us last time and we want some revenge," Thomas said.