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Washington, Houston take down two unexpected bids

Quincy Pondexter scored 18 points, Isaiah Thomas 16 and Washington rallied from a late deficit to win the Pac-10 Tournament with a 79-75 victory over California last night at Los Angeles.

Venoy Overton hit two free throws with 2.1 seconds left for the third-seeded Huskies (24-9), who salvaged their inconsistent regular season with seven straight wins.

Washington gets the Pac-10's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. The Golden Bears (23-10) are also likely headed to the NCAAs. The Huskies' victory, coupled with Houston's upset of No. 25 Texas-El Paso, took two at-large bids off the board.

Cal trailed 61-52 with 11 minutes to play before scoring 14 consecutive points and holding Washington scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes. The Bears led 66-61 before the Huskies made their own 12-2 rally, reclaiming the lead with 3:22 left on a three-pointer by Elston Turner, who didn't score until the game's final minutes.

Houston 81, UTEP 73: Kelvin Lewis scored 28 points and made six three-pointers as Houston (19-15) surged past No. 25 UTEP with a 15-3 run down the stretch in the Conference USA final in Tulsa, Okla. Tom Penders, 64, became the eighth coach to take four Division I schools to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Randy Culpepper scored 20 points and Derrick Caracter 18 for UTEP (26-6).

- AP


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