Player of the Game: Gardner shines

Jason Gardner returned to the spotlight where he ha thrived all season long. After a pair of rough games against the Washington schools, Gardner almost led Arizona to a tough road win over UCLA. Despite a stellar game, Gardner could not propel the Cats to the big win.

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Gardner did about all he could to lead the Wildcats past the Bruins. His 25 points weren't quite enough as UCLA pulled out a last second 77-76 win at Pauley Pavilion.

"I thought Jason Gardner did some really good things for us," Lute Olson said.

With 36 seconds remaining, Gardner nailed a three pointer from the left wing to give the Cats a 76-74 lead. UCLA's Jason Kapono answered with the eventual game winner on a three of his own just 15 seconds later.

"He is so good in the clutch," said former ASU coach Bill Frieder who was sitting at courtside.

Gardner was a phenomenal 7-of-10 from behind the arc. The Arizona junior had been struggling for the past few games, but exploded in fine fashion midway through the first half. Gardner hit back-to-back three pointers 36 seconds apart, one from the left side and one from the right, that gave Arizona an early 18-13 lead. He added two more three pointers to close out the first 20 minutes of play.

"I got some open looks tonight," Gardner said. "I wasn't forcing too much. The big men were getting me open and I was knocking them down tonight."

Gardner continued the strong play in the second half. He hit his fifth three just 2:48 into the half. Gardner took a pass from Salim Stoudamire on the baseline and connected for his 15th point.

Gardner didn't make another basket until 3:53 left in the game. He did get on the scoreboard before then. He drew two fouls and connected on all four free throw attempts. He also had a break away lay-up attempt that was swatted away by Dan Gadzuric, but the officials ruled that it was goal tending.

Gardner played all 40 minutes adding a rebound and two assists.

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