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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “1989: Last-second shot propels UNLV past UA, 68-67”

    MARCH 24, 1989 – DENVER, Colo. – After 39 minutes and 56 seconds, the University of Arizona basketball season came down to one shot last night. With the Wildcats ahead by two, University of Nevada, Las Vegas freshman guard Anderson Hunt hit a three-pointer to seal a 68-67 Western Region semifinal victory in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.

    “”There are so many good teams that you have to be very, very good and very, very lucky,”” UA head coach Lute Olson said. “”We were very, very good tonight, but we were unlucky.””

    Hunt, who scored 21 points for the game, 15 from three-point range, drove down the court in the final seconds with Wildcat senior guard Kenny Lofton practically on his jersey.

    Lofton, after a quick fake by Hunt, fell to the ground, freeing Hunt up for the shot to end the Wildcats’ season.

    “”As soon as the shot was release, I was praying it would hit anything but net,”” junior forward Jud Buechler said.

    His prayers, along with those of the rest of the Wildcat team, were not answered.

    With two seconds left on the clock, Arizona called two timeouts to figure a way to make a winning shot.

    A length-of-the-court pass was intercepted causing a rebel celebration as UNLV advanced to play Seton Hall for the West Regional title Saturday afternoon.

    “”I wished we could play this game over,”” sophomore guard Matt Muehlebach said.

    It looked for a while as if Arizona’s fate would be sealed earlier, as the Rebels took a seven-point lead with 5:56 left in the game.

    Senior center Anthony Cook was not about to give up then, however, as he sank two shots. Those, along with a field goal by senior forward Sean Elliott, tied the score at 65 less than two minutes later.

    Elliot, who had hit a three-pointer to help Cook spark the earlier comeback, missed consecutive three-pointers in an attempt to take the lead, but an easy lay-in by Muehlebach with 1:35 left on the game clock gave the Wildcats the edge until Hunt’s shot.

    “”Everybody looks at the final play,”” Olson said “”We converted when we needed to, to get back into the game, but it was not good enough.””

    Arizona found themselves fighting an uphill battle from the start as the Rebels, normally a poor shooting team, were on fire.

    “”They came out really hot from the start. We felt it was going to be tough,”” Buechler said.

    Despite UNLV playing a near-perfect half against Arizona defense which was in its face, the Wildcats fell behind by only one at halftime, 37-36.

    The Wildcats stayed close despite Elliott having a mere five points in the first half as he was hounded by Rebel sophomore forward Stacey Augmon.

    The Wildcats’ All-American looked frazzled at times in the opening stanza, as did many of his teammates.

    In the second half, the Wildcats gained their composure. Elliott was no exception as he scored seven consecutive Arizona points during one stretch.

    “”At halftime I told Sean that he had to let the game come to him,”” Olson said.

    Yet despite 17 second-half points by the Wildcats’ scoring leader, the game went to the Rebels

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