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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Moving on

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland/Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Pacific 10 Conference Tournament Championship between Washington and Arizona was reminiscent of the last meeting between the two, when UA’s Derrick Williams swatted a Husky shot into the McKale Center stands for the win.

But this time, both team took different roles.

As Washington’s Isaiah Thomas step-back jumper dropped through the net to give the Huskies their second consecutive Pac-10 Tournament Championship, it was Arizona players who headed for their locker room with their heads down, trying to cope with heartbreak while the Washington players weaved through them to celebrate.

A dejected Momo Jones sat on the bench with a towel over his head while Thomas had disappeared beneath the doggy pile that his teammates had formed.

This time it was Thomas who made the clutch play to give his team the win, not Williams.

“”It was just a great shot,”” Williams said at the post-game press conference, still trying to digest a heartbreaking finish. “”You could see it in his eyes when the person I was guarding was going to go set a pick, he called it off.””

Thomas called the pick off and then called off the Wildcats aspirations of the Pac-10 Tournament trophy to go along with their Pac-10 regular season trophy.

Arizona left Staples Center with many regrets but one may not be bigger than the decision Arizona head coach Sean Miller had following the game.

The Wildcats leading 68-65 with 14 seconds remaining in the game, Washington had the ball with a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Miller had two options.

Foul the Huskies and prevent them from tying the game, or let them take your chances at risk of a 3-pointer.

Miller chose the latter and his team paid for it.

Washington forward C.J. Wilcox knocked down a jumper with seven seconds remaining sending the game to overtime.

Miller said following the game that if he could do it again, he would have done one thing differently.

“”If I had to do it all over again, and it’s the hardest part about losing like this,”” Miller said. “”We would have at least called timeout and made sure our guys didn’t run in (the paint).””

Arizona, attempting to help on an aggressive Thomas, who finished with 28 points, left Wilcox and allowed him to make his only 3-pointer of the game.

“”If you leave the 3-point line when you’re winning by three and it’s under 10, that’s the worst way of losing,”” Miller added. “”We ran from the corner in for no reason and gave them a wide-open 3 to tie.

A lapse in defensive judgment gave Arizona a loss that it didn’t want at this point.

“”You never want to go into the tournament with a loss like that,”” Williams said. “”It’s always going in the back of our mind.””

Though none of the Wildcat players want to go into tournament with a tough loss, they must remember Thomas’ shot cost them nothing in the grand scheme of things.

The Wildcats must remove the memory of the Thomas’ shot from their memory.

Things could be worse.

From their experience of a year ago, they should know this better than anyone.

Sure, the loss allowed the Huskies to win this season’s battle 2-1 but winning the tournament, realistically, wouldn’t have given the Wildcats anything but another trophy at McKale.

At the end of the day’s thriller, one team had to lose.

“”It was just a great basketball game,”” Miller said. “”Two teams that were playing their hearts out.””

The loss can work one of two ways for the Wildcats at this point.

It can demoralize the Wildcats into a first round tournament loss or catapult them into few wins.

In order for the Wildcat to accomplish the latter, Arizona must remember one thing that Williams said following the game.

“”Great players make big shots like that.””

And leave it at that.

Vincent Balistreri is a communications senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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