May 22, 2002
MELBOURNE, Australia - The University of Arizona men's basketball team got its first true test in Australia and came up two points short in a 97-95 loss to the Knox Raiders Wednesday night at the Knox Basketball Stadium.
Knox's Brad Sheridan, who finished with a game-high 24 points, hit a three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining to give the Raiders the two-point win. Arizona did have a shot to win the game, but Salim Stoudamire's three-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim.
Once again, turnovers proved to be a problem for the Wildcat offense as the squad tallied a tour-high 33 miscues in the contest. Eight of the 10 UA players to see action Wednesday collected at least two turnovers apiece.
"Turnovers killed us tonight," said UA assistant coach Josh Pastner, who handled the head coaching duties. "We've got to learn to take care of the ball. Until we do, we're going to run into problems, and that was the case tonight."
The Raiders held the lead for the majority of the game, building as much as a 13-point lead (63-50) with 7:06 to go in the third quarter. Arizona chipped away at the lead with consecutive treys by Luke Walton and Stoudamire before an Isaiah Fox bucket cut the deficit to five points with six minutes to go in the period.
After a Knox free throw pushed the margin to six, Jason Gardner turned in what was the play of the game. He stopped a would-be Raider fast break by blocking a layup attempt, tracking down the loose ball, and hitting a trey at the other end that cut the lead to three.
Overall, UA head coach Lute Olson was satisfied with the Wildcat effort against a veteran Australian ABA team. For the first time in four games, Arizona faced an opponent that forced it to play well in order to win.
"That was a good game for us," said Olson. "They are a very good team that you really need to play well against to win. For us to have 33 turnovers and still have a chance to win at the end tells me we did some things well."
One of those positives was the play of Channing Frye. The 6-foot-10 center hit 12-of-17 shots from the floor en route to game-high totals of 24 points and 17 rebounds. He scored eight of his points in the fourth quarter, and practically traded baskets with Sheridan down the stretch.
Despite the strong effort, Fyre's sights were already looking forward to the next game. "The bottom line is that we lost the game," he explained. "I really hate to lose. I'm already looking forward to getting back on the floor tomorrow night."
The Wildcats travel to Sydney Thursday to take on the Sydney Kings night at 7:30 p.m.