Perfection attained; Dawgs outlast 'Cats

March is still a few days away but the madness filled Hec Edmundsen Pavilion in full force. And for the seniors of this Washington Huskies squad, they knew that the stage was set for each of them to leave one last mark in the game that was billed as the Pac-10's "Game of the Year" by many as No.14 Washington (23-4 Overall, 13-3 Pac-10) outlasted the ninth-ranked Arizona Wildcats (24-5, 14-3) to close a perfect 15-0 home record along with their 22nd consecutive win on their home court.

"We thought the Stanford win was big last year, and it was," said Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar. "But like I said earlier based on what was at stake, it was a huge performance by our team. Our guys came out here with as much heart as they could muster up."

"I really can't express how I feel right now," said senior guard Tre Simmons. "It was a huge win for the last home game of the season and it was my last time playing on this court."

With the win, Washington remains in second place in the Pac-10 standings by a half-game. The Huskies will do no worse than tying for the Pac-10 championship if they win out by sweeping the Bay Area schools next week on the road, and can win the title outright if Arizona falls to Arizona State at Tempe on Saturday.

"We're going to enjoy ourselves for the night," said Simmons. "But we have to get back to business and with the conference on the road."

Both teams came out of the gates running and gunning as Arizona went on an 8-0 run early in the first half that gave the Wildcats the early lead. However, the Huskies always kept themselves close and slowly began to cut the deficit, and at the 6:05 point of the first half, Nate Robinson's 16-foot jumper tied the game 27-27.

Washington immediately rode the momentum and went on the offensive. A Brandon Roy tip-in off of a Jamaal Williams jumper gave the Huskies a 32-31 lead at the 3:45 mark of the first half in the midst of a 12-4 run.

Down 42-35 at halftime, the Wildcats' duo of Channing Frye and Hassan Adams did all they can to keep their team in the game by taking advantage of their superior frontcourt play. Frye in particular was nearly unstoppable all night seemingly dunking at ease over the smaller Washington defenders and Adams used his outstanding athleticism to weave around the paint. Frye finished with a game-high 30 points on 13-of-15 shooting and Adams added 18 points.

Washington did their best to ride through Arizona's hot streaks. Simmons got the hot hand again and hit clutch shots all night. Simmons led the Huskies with 24 points, including Washington's first nine points of the game on three consecutive treys.

The Wildcats however pulled within one when Arizona's Mustafa Shakur drained a three-pointer from the baseline to make it 75-74, but the Huskies did not get rattled. In a key sequence, a missed rebound was falling out-of-bounds when Hakeem Rollins sold out and got the ball to Robinson who drained a clutch three to give Washington a 80-74 lead with 3:40 left in the game.

Rollins made his presence felt again later when he scored on a rebound and put-back in heavy traffic with 2:04 left in the game.

"Hakeem Rollins had that unbelievable put-back that may have been the biggest play of the game," said Romar. "It's great to see that happen for those guys."

But the Wildcats' Salim Stoudamire added to the drama by hitting a bug three to make it 84-81, but Robinson, who may have played his last home game of his brilliant Husky career, came to the rescue again a couple minutes later by sinking a beautiful floater over Frye to give the Dawgs an 86-81 lead with 1:12 to go.

The Wildcats were still presented with opportunities to score. Arizona's Ivan Radenovic had an open look from the top of the key but wound up missing badly, but had a chance to redeem himself with free throws after a foul was called on Simmons. Radenovic missed both free throw opportunities, which put the Wildcats fate into the free throw shooting of the Huskies.

"We are a group that has character," said Romar. "It has character, is together and is pretty mentally tough, which is what it takes to beat a team like Arizona. We would like for us to do a perfect job but that's not the case. But given the nature of the game, I would say we are doing a pretty good job."

Arizona had one last chance and put the ball into the hands of Stoudamire. The senior sharpshooter went up for a three but was fouled with 15.4 seconds left sending him to the line for three shots, down 90-84. Stoudamire, the Pac-10's best free throw shooter, missed two-out-of-three free throws to cap a frustrating night and sealing the victory for the Huskies.

"Will Conroy took it upon himself really do a good job as he could on him, but you really can't put just one guy on Salim Stoudamire," said Romar. "You don't see too many games where Stoudamire is one-for-six in the first half."

The frustration was evident in the closing seconds as Stoudamire and Robinson got into each other's faces as both received double technicals. "They pretty much played the same game except they were at home and we made more mistakes," said Frye when asked about the Huskies play.



Notes

Senior Tributes: Each senior was honored before the game individually. The quartet of Will Conroy, Tre Simmons, Hakeem Rollins, and Alex Johnson received a standing ovation from the capacity crowds, and the Dawgpack chanted "one more year," which was obviously directed at the duo of Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy. The most memorable scene came when Conroy was taken out of the game with a few second on the clock and before he headed to the bench, he embraced all of the teammates on the court and knelt down to kiss the "W' before heading to the bench to a huge ovation.

Conroy the Playmaker: Senior Will Conroy set a new single season record with 166 assists. Conroy passed Chester Dorsey's single season record of 163 assists, set in 1976. Conroy is also four assists shy of the all-time record of 458 assists, also held by Dorsey.

No Free Rides: Arizona was only 5-of-11 on free throws and didn't even get an attempt in the first half. That is a sharp contrast to the last time the two teams met in Tucson, when the Wildcats were 38-of-40 from the line.

Dawgpack Rumblings: The Dawgpack, which camped outside since Thursday night was at an all-time creative high as they got in the ears of Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire. Fans held up a sign with Frye's cell phone number and chanted out his number all game long while also yelling "check your voicemail."

"That's OK," said Frye about the Dawgpack's chants. "I'm having fun regardless of what they say about me. I'm out there just to play. Too bad that's not my real phone number. I got to say congratulations for even getting close to my number. They got my area code correct. Congratulations to coach Romar and Washington though for building up a tremendous student section."

Stoudamire was bombarded with chants of "headcase," referring to his many incidents where his disruptive attitude became public.

Home Records: Washington has sold out 10 games this season, a school record. It eclipses the previous record of four sellouts, established in 1999. The total home attendance for this season is 148,201, which is also a new record, and averaged 9,880 fans per contest, which is second all-time to the 1953 mark of 9,95 fans per game.

Husky Scoring

Points: Simmons 24, Robinson 22, Jones 13, Roy 10, Williams 6, Smith 4, Jensen 3, Rollins 2
Rebounds:Roy 9, Rollins 6, Conroy 5, Simmons 3, Robinson 3, Jones 2
Assists:Robinson 7, Conroy 4, Rollins 3, Jones 2, Simmons 2, Smith 1, Jensen 1, Williams 1
Steals:Simmons 4, Rollins 2, Conroy 1, Smith 1, Jones 1, Williams 1.
Blocks:Jones 1

Attendance: 10,000

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