Huskies caught just short in thriller

Everyone knew Derrick Williams would be a factor in this game with his scoring presence, but it was his defensive effort at the end of the game that preserved a hard-fought 87-86 win for Arizona over Washington Saturday at the McKale Center in Tucson - the best Pac-10 game of the year. It lived up to all the hype, and then some.

Williams' block of a Darnell Gant shot with less than 2.2 seconds left gave the Wildcats (23-4, 12-2) a clear path toward a Pac-10 regular season title after UW battled back from a 9-point half-time deficit. With the loss, the Huskies eliminated themselves from the regular-season Pac-10 title after they were voted the pre-season favorite to win it all.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored 20 of his team-high 24 points during the second half for Washington (18-8, 10-5), who clawed their way back despite being down by as many as 14 points.

Bryan-Amaning's game was as black and white as the scene at McKale. His final stat line was impressive; 24 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks - tying a school record - four assists, and four steals.

But he was called for traveling with three seconds left in the game. It appeared the Huskies had used up all their good fortune, but the 'Cats gave the ball right back when UA guard Lamont Jones lost the ball out of bounds during an inbound play.

As the officials determined how much time was to be put back on the clock, both teams huddled for the final play. Much like the end of the Kentucky game, UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar went with a unique call - Darnell Gant - who made a rare start for Aziz N'diaye, who was late for the bus to the game.

Gant, who was guarded by UA's Jamelle Horne, was able to cleanly catch the ball with 2.2 seconds left and went up for the final shot. But Williams skied in from Gant's left to swat the ball five rows deep into the white, as the McKale faithful roared their approval.

"I thought it was a goaltend," Gant said. "I thought I got it up before he could get there. I thought the ball was coming down, but they called the other way."

With only .2 seconds left, all Washington could do was throw the ball up by the rim, but it was easily tipped away from the Wildcats as time expired.

"I just tapped it perfectly and luckily they didn't call goaltending," Williams said after the game. "I believe if we were at Washington they might have called it goaltending but good thing we were at home."

"I don't know," added UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar. "I'm going to look at it. I can't wait to look at it on film. And if I thought it would change the matter I would look at it right now. But it's not going to change, so whether it was or not, I don't know."

Williams led Arizona with a game-high 26 points. Jones contributed 15, while Kevin Parrom and Jesse Perry added 11 points each.

Arizona implored their fans to wear white for the game, and the 'White Out' certainly left the Huskies snow-blind for the first 10 minutes of the game.

"If there was someone wearing a color, I didn't see it," Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller said after the game. "That was fourteen thousand and five hundred white shirts. I really can't say enough about our fans. They all come here to be a part of something that is so special, and we really appreciate their support. The crowd was a big reason four the win."

The Wildcats couldn't miss from three, shooting 80 percent for the half. Every time Washington would bring the deficit down to respectability, UA would sprint out again.

The Wildcats' Solomon Hill was called for a technical foul with 7:26 remaining in the first half, and Arizona up 30-22. Washington reeled off three quick points, only to be rebuffed by six-straight points by the 'Cats Parrom. That was as close as UW would get during the first 20 minutes of play.

Besides Bryan-Amaning's 24 points, C.J. Wilcox continued his hot scoring with a career-high 19 points. Isaiah Thomas scored 12 and added 10 assists, and Justin Holiday was the other Husky to score in double-digits with 11.

Venoy Overton made a start Saturday for the injured Scott Suggs, who suffered a sprained MCL Thursday night in UW's 17-point win at Arizona State. He scored six points, dished out three assists and had one steal in 24 minutes of play.

Ultimately what killed Washington was rebounding; Arizona crushed the Huskies 40-25 on the boards, including 19-8 on the offensive glass. It was as poor an effort by UW all year, as they pride themselves on holding offenses to one shot per possession.

"Rebounding was definitely the key today," Miller said. "Washington is the number one team in the conference in rebounding, and the cat's really out of the bag now. If we can out rebound them, then we can do it to anyone."


Statistics:
Points: Bryan-Amaning 24, Wilcox 19, Thomas 12, Holiday 11, Gant 7, Overton 6, Ross 5, N'Diaye 2
Rebounds: Bryan-Amaning 8, Gant 7, TEAM 3, Holiday 2, Thomas 2, Ross 2, N'Diaye 2
Assists: Thomas 10, Bryan-Amaning 4, Overton 3, Ross 2, Gant 1
Steals: Bryan-Amaning 4, Overton 1, Holiday 1, Thomas 1, Ross 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 7, Gant 1, Holiday 1, Ross 1, N'Diaye 1


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