Huskies men left defenseless against Arizona
The Washington Huskies pulled out all the stops to beat Arizona on Thursday night, making their most radical lineup change of the season...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Washington Huskies pulled out all the stops to beat Arizona on Thursday night, making their most radical lineup change of the season.
But the new look didn't help them get any stops — the basketball vernacular for playing good defense — and that made all the difference as the visiting Wildcats left town with a 96-87 victory over the Huskies.
Washington, therefore, falls to 10-4 overall and 0-3 in Pac-10 play for the first time since starting out 0-5 in the 2003-04 season. That year, UW rallied to finish 12-6.
The first big lineup shuffle of the season — featuring Ryan Appleby at point guard for Justin Dentmon and Phil Nelson at forward for Quincy Pondexter — looked good on the offensive end of the floor as Washington shot 36 for 67 (53.7 percent) from the field and lost just 11 turnovers.
But the Huskies couldn't keep pace with Arizona, which made 32 of 49 shots (65.3 percent) for the game and 16 of 21 (76.2 percent) in the second half in snapping Washington's 16-game home-court winning streak and winning at Edmundson Pavilion for the second consecutive season.
Arizona did much of its damage from downtown, hitting 11 of 20 three-pointers as the Huskies spent the majority of the second half in a 2-3 zone.
"It was unbelievable," said UW center Spencer Hawes, who scored 16 points despite battling a stomach flu much of the week and getting an IV at halftime. "It seemed like every time we just packed it in there and they'd just let it fly and every time I went to box out and when the ball got near the hoop you'd turn around and you'd see it going in."
UW coach Lorenzo Romar said, "You could probably blame me for staying in the zone. I didn't think we were doing a very good job in the man defense, so I switched to the zone and they began to hit. We didn't think that they would continue but they did. We took a gamble and we lost it."
Just five Arizona players scored, but four topped the 20-point mark. Freshman Chase Budinger led the way with 23 points, with Roosevelt High grad Marcus Williams and Jawann McClellan adding 22 each and point guard Mustafa Shakur 21.
McClellan, a junior guard who missed much of last season with injuries, led the three-point barrage, hitting 6 of 9 three-pointers as the No. 7-ranked Wildcats won their 12th in a row to improve to 12-1 overall and 3-0 in Pac-10 play.
"Both teams shot the ball so well it was like neither team could stop the other team," said Arizona coach Lute Olson. "In the second half, we did a better job of rebounding and cut off some of the stuff we were really hurt on in the first half as far as drives to the middle."
The new lineup, which came in the wake of the 96-74 defeat Sunday at UCLA, paid off early as the Huskies led 51-48 following a first half that might have been the most entertaining of the season for Seattle fans.
It featured a 13-0 run by the Huskies to take the lead, and then a 15-0 run by Arizona to take it back.
Pondexter sparked UW's attack with 21 of his team-high 25 points in the first half. Nelson also had 10 of his career-high 16 before the break.
UW's biggest lead was 45-31 with 6:10 left after the Huskies scored seven in a row, including a highlight-reel play from Pondexter where he drove the lane, dribbled behind his back to evade a defender, then laid the ball in.
But Arizona came right back to retake the lead, with a rare five-point play getting the rally started. As McClellan hit a three-pointer, Hawes was called for a foul jostling for position, allowing Budinger to hit two free throws. Two more threes by McClellan, a junior guard who missed most of last season because of an injury, helped give Arizona a 46-45 lead with 2:22 remaining.
The teams then spent much of the second half trading the lead, and the game was tied at 79 with just less than seven minutes left.
But back-to-back three-pointers by Shakur gave Arizona the lead for good, and the Huskies then picked the wrong time to go cold, hitting just one field goal in the final 5:23.
"Those were tough shots they were hitting," Pondexter said. "Those were some NBA threes."
UW has now lost three in a row for just the second time since the 0-5 conference start to the 2003-04 season. But Romar again preached patience, telling his team that "they can't dwell on 'You are 0-3.' You can't dwell on 'We've got a long way out of this hole.' You dwell on one game at a time. That's how you dig yourself out of a hole."
Pondexter agreed. "It's nothing to worry about now. It's not 9-1-1 time yet."
But operators will be on alert should UW lose Saturday to Arizona State.