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Hill’s toughness not enough to get win

Citizen Staff Writer



SEATTLE – Jordan Hill thought for a second he couldn’t come back from a sprained left ankle.

There was some thought for a moment whether Washington could come back, too.

Both did – and impressively.

Washington got the upper hand on Hill and Arizona on Saturday afternoon at sold-out Bank of America Arena. UW won 83-78 and has at least a tie for the Pacific-10 Conference title.

UW is 22-7 overall and 13-4 in the Pac-10. UA is 18-11, 8-8.

“I thought about (not coming back) for a while, thinking I couldn’t go back in, but I kept walking on it for a while and decided to go back in,” said Hill, who suffered what was later diagnosed as a severely sprained left ankle.

He was injured with 7:27 left and UW up 63-62.

UA interim coach Russ Pennell, after seeing Hill getting helped off the court, thought Hill “was done for the day,” but Hill tapped Pennell on the shoulder and said he was good enough to go back in.

“He’s tough,” Pennell said. “He handles pain pretty good. It’s funny when that ball hits your hand, it’s kind of like medicine. All of sudden you don’t feel pain.”

UW big man Jon Brockman figured Hill would return, saying Hill is too tough and was just too good Saturday. Hill had 27 points and 10 rebounds.

“He’s a warrior; a beast,” said Brockman, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds.

“It’s his competitiveness, I guess. I knew it wouldn’t keep him out very long. When I found out it was his ankle I knew he’d be back. I’ve been there. It’s part of being a big man. You’re going to roll your ankles.”

More importantly, Arizona didn’t roll over when Hill was gone, although it couldn’t overcome UW’s strong second half. Washington outscored UA 51-42 in the half, and had an 18-4 run in a crucial stretch.

Chase Budinger and Nic Wise played most of the game in foul trouble for UA. Budinger, who scored 20 points, fouled out with 2:38 left and UW leading 73-69. Wise picked up his fourth foul with 5:15 left and the Huskies up 69-68.

“It’s always tough sitting down at the end of the game when it’s that close,” Budinger said.

“I just wanted to be out there with my teammates. (But) Jordan fought, even when he got hurt. It shows heart on his part.”

Pennell said he liked his team’s effort, particularly after not playing well in Thursday’s loss at Washington State.

“That’s the way we’ve been playing most of the year,” Pennell said of Saturday. “That’s more typical of us. This is a tough environment. To play them like we did I was proud of our team.”

Washington got back in the game midway through the second half when Arizona went cold. UA had leads of 56-46 and then 58-48 with 11:42 left.

But UW crept back at 60-56 with 10 minutes left. UW’s Matt Bryan-Amaning was called for goaltending on a Brandon Lavender shot with 9:45 left, making it 62-56.

But UA didn’t score another basket for 3 1/2 minutes as UW went on a 10-0 run to take its first lead since 25-23.

Hill came back with just under four minutes left and UW leading 71-70, although he clearly was favoring the foot when he returned. The Huskies held the lead the rest of the way, hitting their free throws down the stretch.

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