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Huskies Have Arizona's Number

Washington will face Stanford for the title after beating Wildcats, 90-85, for third time this season.

March 13, 2004|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

At Arizona, where "indefinite" suspensions last all of one game, especially when that one game is a loss, indefinite also means a mighty long time.

As in since 1939 ... as in the last time Arizona lost to the same team three times in a single season.

Washington, which shocked the Wildcats twice this season, pulled off the three-peat in the Pacific 10 Conference tournament semifinals Friday night at Staples Center, 90-85.

The Huskies, who improved to 19-10 with the win, perhaps came into the game breathing a little bit easier about their NCAA tournament possibilities -- which would be their first appearance since 1999 -- because upset-minded Oregon got bounced in the evening's first semifinal.

No. 2-seeded Washington will meet top-seeded and No. 2-ranked Stanford (28-1) today for the tournament title and accompanying automatic berth.

The Wildcats were led by Hassan Adams, who had 30 points.

Nate Robinson led the Huskies with 20 points.

The Huskies are mere pups at this game, starting four sophomores and a junior, but for whatever reason, they play the depth-challenged Wildcats like seasoned veterans.

Consider: in sweeping Arizona in Pac-10 play for the first time since 1984, Washington beat the Wildcats, 96-83, in Seattle on Jan. 29 and 89-84 in Tucson on Feb. 26.

It was in the return game that Arizona junior shooting guard Salim Stoudamire was issued the indefinite suspension by Coach Lute Olson.

The sweep enabled Washington, which finished 12-6 in league, to take second place for the first time since 1986.

With the Huskies having scored the first four points of the game, and Arizona struggling to get in an offensive rhythm, the Wildcats employed a full-court press defense that flummoxed Washington.

But the Wildcats, who have little to no depth, tired mightily and had to sit back in a zone defense.

Washington took full advantage.

Nate Robinson began the three-point barrage and six three-pointers later, Washington enjoyed a six-point advantage, 40-34 with 3:13 to play.

Arizona, which was also hurt by center Channing Frye picking up his second foul at the 10:49 mark, had to play little-used Kirk Walters in the pivot as well as give senior guard Jason Ranne some run to spell the winded Wildcats.

Having attempted eight more free throws in the first half than Washington, and making 15 of them, however, helped the Wildcats close the halftime gap to two points, 42-40.

Entering the game, the Huskies had won 13 of 15 after starting Pac-10 play with five straight losses.

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