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Huskies Play Smart, Beat George Mason in Tourney Opener

UW guard Terrell Brown takes what the defense gives, dishing and then scoring.

At the Pentagon, Terrell Brown Jr. played like a 5-star general.

He delegated.

He next commanded everyone's attention.

With George Mason focused on stopping him, Brown turned playmaker only for a half on Monday night at the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and after intermission resumed his high-scoring ways in Washington's 77-74 victory at the arena with the unusual name, the Sanford Pentagon.

Held to a solitary bucket over the first 20 minutes, Brown finished with a game-high 23 points, plus 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 assists, as he and the rest of the Huskies (3-2) turned in their most solid outing of the young season. 

PJ Fuller, his UW and Garfield High teammate, picked up the slack when the defense zeroed in on Brown and came up with a season-best 21 points.

"These guys played for each other today," UW coach Mike Hopkins said. "It was how are we going to win?"

While the Huskies led for the last 13 minutes of the game, George Mason (4-2) simply would not go away. 

Patriots guard Jamal Hartwell II even had a shot at the buzzer to tie under the heavy guard of Fuller, who forced him to toss one up that didn't hit anything.

The Huskies looked like a new team as they crisply moved the ball around the perimeter, took better shots and as a team hit for a season-best 48.1 percent from the field. Brown sank 7 of 13 field goals, Fuller 6 of 11.

George Mason went after Brown from the outset and the Seattle native was willing to give up the ball rather than force things.

In one memorable first-half flurry, the 6-foot-3 senior guard and Arizona transfer made steals on consecutive possessions and fed lob passes to Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Daejon Davis for dunks and a 29-20 advantage. 

The Patriots from Fairfax, Virginia, also had difficulty figuring out the UW 2-3 zone defense and shot just 3 for 14 from behind the line in the opening half. They trailed 31-23 at the break.

Making defensive adjustments, they played it more straight up in the second half and that was just an invitation for Brown to look for the basket. 

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He hit his first 3-pointer three and a half minutes after halftime. With 12:58 left, he sank two free throws to put the Huskies ahead for good at 42-40.

But just because the Patriots let Brown have more offensive freedom didn't mean they were going to give in.

They hung close with the Huskies by relying on the scoring inside from 6-foot-9 forward Josh Oduro and outside from guard Jevon Cooper. Both players finished with 21 points.

Brown, however, was the main man now.

With the Huskies leading 62-60 with five minutes left, the creative guard hit three shots in in a row, sending one in high off the glass, dropping in a floater and hitting a jumper in the key for an eight-point lead. 

His 3-point play with 90 seconds left, a drive followed by a foul shot, put the UW on top 71-65. 

Still, George Mason hung around.

With 7.9 seconds to go and the UW ahead just 73-72, Brown sank two free throws. 

Hartwell matched that for the Patriots at 4.6 after Brown made a smart intentional foul.

On the Huskies' final possession, Brown inbounded to Fuller, who was fouled and made both shots for the final margin.

"We knew we had to play better," Hopkins said. "We knew we had to share the ball."

Brown showed everyone how.

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