No. 2 Wildcats edge Husky men in overtime

The No. 2 Arizona Wildcats held off an incredible 45-minute effort from the University of Washington Thursday night, needing overtime to beat the energetic Huskies, 88-85, at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle.

Washington trailed by five with 1:23 remaining in regulation, but scored the final five points on a Will Conroy three-pointer and driving layin by Nate Robinson to send the game into overtime.

Once there, the Huskies remained calm and hung around. The Wildcats held a two-point lead with 2:32 to go, but Bobby Jones went to the free throw line on three consecutive Husky offensive possessions. He hit four of the six to give Washington a two-point lead with 1:35 to go.

Washington called timeout, which gave Arizona coach Lute Olsen the opportunity to draw up a play. He called for one that was designed for sophomore guard Salim Stoudamire to get open for a three-pointer at the right wing.

The Wildcats executed it to perfection, as Stoudamire bounced out and received the pass a step behind the three-point arc, and without any hesitation drained the shot.

After a Husky miss at the other end, the Wildcats called for a timeout. Coming out of the break in action, Arizona beat the Huskies with another well-devised play. Point guard Jason Gardner worked off a high-screen and dribbled toward the basket. Once the Husky defense collapsed, he skipped the ball to center Channing Frye for the layin and three-point UA lead.

In their last chance to tie the game and force double-overtime, Washington put the ball in the hands of their best playmaker, Robinson. Nate-the-Great dribbled down the 13 seconds of time remaining on the game clock, freed himself for an open look, and let it fly. But it glanced hard off the rim.

Bobby Jones rebounded and was fouled with one second left. Needing to make the first and miss the second, hoping for a rebound putback, the freshman forward made the first but airballed the second.

Stoudamire led Arizona (17-2, 9-1 Pacific-10) with 25 points on a great night of shooting from the floor. He finished 9-13 overall, and 5-8 from downtown.

Frye, also a sophomore on the star-studded Wildcat team, added 24 points and 12 rebounds.

"I can't say enough about the effort that our guys showed. They gave maximum effort tonight," said Husky coach Lorenzo Romar. "I was extremely proud of our guys."

Romar also indicated, though, that no loss is acceptable for this Husky team.

"We are a team that believes we are going to be champions. If you believe you are going to be champions, you are never happy with a loss."

Olsen was impressed with the way the Huskies scratched and clawed throughout the game, and indicated he was happy just to come out with a win.

"I thought Washington played harder," the legendary Arizona coach said after the game. "They competed harder. They played with a lot more enthusiasm and effort than our guys did. They deserved to win the game. The only thing that saved us was Salim hitting the shots."

Washington (8-11, 3-7 Pac-10) held control of the game for the first 30 minutes. Led by maximum efforts from freshmen forwards Bobby Jones and Mike Jensen up front, the Huskies took a two-point lead to half.

Against the best rebounding team in the conference (Arizona came in averaging 44 per game), the young and inexperienced Husky front line, which was forced to play without center Anthony Washington, outrebounded the Wildcats 28-18 in the first half.

Coming out of halftime, Washington continued to hold momentum, getting a huge boost from the reckless and rowdy home crowd.

They outscored the visitors from Tucson 16-8 in the first 6:49 of the second half to break out to a 10-point lead.

But, typical of a No. 2 ranked team, the Wildcats answered in a timely fashion.

Back to back three-pointers from forward Rick Andersen and Stoudamire pulled them to within four less than a minute later, Five more points from Stoudamire over the next three minutes put Arizona on top at 61-60.

Over the next six minutes, neither team managed to take control of the game, and with 3:00 to go the score stood tied at 71.

That's when the unthinkable happened, as Luke Walton, the son of former UCLA center and NBA star Bill Walton, drove hard baseline and laid in ball hard off the glass, drawing a foul on Washington's Doug Wrenn. Wrenn, who had three personal fouls before the play, drew his fourth, then spiked the ball off the hardwood and picked up a technical.

That forced Wrenn to foul out. Stoudamire came on to nail two technical foul shots, and Walton hit his free throw to complete what ended up being a five-point possession for the Wildcats.

The Huskies didn't quit, however, and thanks to the late rally forced an extra five-minute session.

Despite the loss, the Washington players feel they proved something by hanging in there against an elite team like Arizona.

"This loss does not sit well, but it shows we can play against elite teams and the potential we have," said Jones, Washingon's forward who finished with a team-high 11 rebounds to go with 10 points. "Our confidence is very high."

Gardner, Arizona's senior point guard who is one of the best in the nation, finished with only eight points on a dreadful night from the field. Thanks largely to the smothering defense of Robinson and Conroy, Gardner made just two of 12 shots attempted.

Walton finished with 13.

Curtis Allen added 15 for the Huskies, all coming via the three-point shot. He was 5-11 from long-range on the night.


Game Notes:

Smelling Rosy: A couple of familiar faces from the past showed up at the game Thursday night. Marques Tuiasosopo, Willie Hurst, and Omare Lowe, three starters on the 2001 Rose Bowl championship team, sat behind the Arizona bench. The trio sat with current Huskies Zach Tuiasosopo, Cody Pickett, Justin Robbins, Roc Alexander, Sam Cunningham, and Greg Carothers.

Thirsty for A&W: The Huskies were without the services of freshman center Anthony Washington, and his unavailability made Jeffrey Day, Mike Jensen, and Marlon Shelton have to step up. All three did. But there's no denying that having Washington available would have helped the UW immensely.

Proud of the Crowd: The fans came out in bunches to watch the Huskies play the Wildcats tonight, selling out Hec Edmundson Pavilion (10,000 capacity) for only the third time since it was renovated three seasons ago. They provided an atmosphere and electricity in the building that has been absent in recent years.

Mr. Milestone: With his layin at the 14:22 mark of the first half, Arizona forward Luke Walton hit the 1,000 point mark in his career.

Up Next: Washington wraps up its three-game homestand Saturday versus Arizona State. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.


Husky Stats:

Points: Robinson 19, Allen 15, Conroy 11, Jones 10, Wrenn 9, Jensen 8, Shelton 5, Roy 4, Day 4
Rebounds: Jones 11, Wrenn 6, Jensen 5, Robinson 4, Conroy 4, Day 4, Allen 3, Shelton 3, Roy 1
Assists: Conroy 6, Jones 2, Robinson 2, Shelton 1, Allen 1, Wrenn 1
Steals: Allen 2, Jones 1, Wrenn 1, Day 1, Conroy 1
Blocks: Roy 1

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