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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bittersweet senior sendoff

    Arizonas Mustafa Shakur drives against Washingtons Jamaal Williams during the second half of Arizonas game against No. 14 Washington, March 4, 2006 at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.  Washington came from behind to beat Arizona 70-67. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Chris Coduto
    Arizona’s Mustafa Shakur drives against Washington’s Jamaal Williams during the second half of Arizona’s game against No. 14 Washington, March 4, 2006 at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. Washington came from behind to beat Arizona 70-67. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    If there is a game to describe the Arizona men’s basketball season, it was the final regular season loss on Saturday to Washington.

    The Wildcats (18-11, 11-7 Pacific 10 Conference) lost to the No. 14 Huskies (24-5, 13-5) 70-67. The Wildcats relied on their defense for as long as they could, but they finally had to turn to an offense that just couldn’t get the job done.

    With Arizona leading by as many as 12 points with 13:47 left in the game, the Huskies started to play their game, holding the Wildcats without a field goal in the final 5:37 and giving Washington a chance to take its first lead of the game.

    That came on the game-changing play with 33.9 seconds left to play when senior guard Chris Rodgers in-bounded the ball to freshman forward Marcus Williams, who had it stolen by Huskies freshman guard Justin Dentmon.

    “”That was the momentum-changer right there,”” junior guard Mustafa Shakur said. “”It was a big steal, a big play for them.””

    According to Arizona head coach Lute Olson, the play was designed for Williams to use the entire court to his advantage, but the Seattle native didn’t take advantage, giving the Huskies a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

    “”In college ball you can use the backcourt, and I think Marcus was thinking he couldn’t come across half court,”” Olson said. “”The biggest thing is that Marcus had the whole backcourt to work with, and if you start thinking in the pros, you can’t go across half court, and in college you’ve got the entire court to use.””

    That turnover led to senior forward Bobby Jones’ dunk to put the Huskies up by one point and give them their first lead of the game at 68-67.

    After a timeout, Williams had the ball for the Wildcats, drove to the right side and was fouled by senior guard Brandon Roy, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, putting Williams on the line for two shots.

    Williams, a career 69.1 percent free throw shooter, including 73.2 percent in conference play, toed the line and missed both shots.

    “”You don’t have to look at the stats very far to see what killed us was the free-throw line,”” said Olson, whose team shot 61.5 percent to Washington’s 84.6 percent. “”The thing that killed us was at the line, and we’d been shooting the ball really well from the line.””

    After Dentmon made two free throws to put the Huskies up 70-67 with just nine seconds left, Olson said he drew up a play that Washington defended really well.

    “”The last possession we had (nine) seconds left, so we wanted to get it in-bound, wanted (junior forward) Ivan (Radenovic) to set the screen at the 3-point line, take it off (the screen) and if the (defender) helped, kick it back for Ivan for three,”” Olson said.

    As it turned out, senior Hassan Adams, in his final game at the McKale Center, dribbled the ball around Radenovic’s screen and took a fade-away 3 that was partially blocked, ending the game and stunning the sea of red in the crowd.

    Adams, who injured his shoulder in the first half of the win over Washington State on Thursday, never looked comfortable on the court, scoring just eight points on 4-of-12 shooting and notching two rebounds.

    “”I’d say he was probably at 70 percent,”” Olson said. “”They did a good job on doubling Mustafa (on the last play) so he couldn’t get the in-bound and forced Hassan to get it.””

    Adams said the decision to play wasn’t even a question.

    “”It’s just me,”” Adams said. “”I’ll go out there and do whatever it takes to help the team win. I’ve been getting treatment for the last couple of days, and I just go out there and play.””

    The Wildcats offense was led by Williams, who finished with 20 points in just his third 20-point game of his career and Rodgers, who had 11 points and was perfect from 3-point land, going 3-of-3.

    “”Chris Rodgers had a great game on both ends of the court,”” Olson said. “”He had a great game because he let shots come to him instead of looking for shots.””

    The loss landed the Wildcats a No. 4 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament, with a first round matchup against No. 5 Stanford set for 1:20 p.m. Thursday.

    “”I’m going to go in the Pac-10 with my head up and look at the things we did well and the things we did wrong and try to correct those but go in there with a clear mind of focus,”” Shakur said. “”The preseason is what builds you for the tournament and the Big Dance, and that’s what it’s about right now.””

    Celebrity sightings: Luis Gonzalez, Robert Shelton, Jerryd Bayless, Michael Dickerson. … For the first time in 15 years, someone made the half-court shot to win a car at halftime.

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