March 10, 2012
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Kyle Fogg couldn't talk, his jersey pulled up to his forehand, hiding his anguish.
The senior guard who helped Arizona win 90 games while playing in a school-record 138 had the ball in his hands with seconds to go. He let fly an off-balance 3-pointer that missed at the buzzer, sending the Wildcats to a 53-51 loss against Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament championship on Saturday.
"It wasn't a good one," coach Sean Miller said, "but it's amazing that we had that when you consider the hole we were in."
The sixth-seeded Buffaloes got 14 points from freshman Spencer Dinwiddie and 13 from Carlon Brown, voted most outstanding player of the four-day tourney, to earn their first NCAA tournament bid since 2003.
The Wildcats (23-11) were left in limbo, with no guarantee of returning to the NCAAs, where they made the final eight a year ago. Last March, they endured another heartbreaking two-point loss in overtime to Washington in the title game.
"Today was much different because it meant the NCAA tournament versus no on that," Miller said. "I'm not saying that we're not close. We're not games away. We're probably about four plays away, which includes today's game."
Both teams struggled at the start, combining to miss 15 of 21 shots. The Buffs led most of the half, although not by more than five, before Arizona took its first lead with 5:56 to play in the half on a 3-pointer by Fogg. The Buffs were up by two at the break and they stretched their lead early in the second half.
Colorado opened the second half on an 18-8 run, with Dinwiddie and Brown combining for 10 points, to extend the Buffs' lead to 48-36. Fogg, Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry accounted for all of Arizona's points.
"We got a lot of one-on-one plays and it took us a while to get it together," Perry said. "Once we did, it was pretty much too late."
Frontcourt mates Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry had teamed with Fogg to score 50 of Arizona's 72 points in a semifinal win over Oregon State. Hill finished with 13 points, while Perry added 11 against the Buffs.
Hill's layup drew the Wildcats to 53-51 with 20 seconds left. But Fogg's shot was left of the basket and time expired. He scored 14 points for fourth-seeded Arizona, then slumped in his locker afterward.
"To have the ball in Kyle's hands is something that's been good for our team," Miller said. "The last play didn't win or lose the game. There were so many plays throughout the course of the game that hurt us."
The Wildcats came into the tourney off what Miller called a "damaging" loss to rival Arizona State.
But they took their first hit in the preseason, losing a 69-68 stunner to Seattle Pacific.
Miller never let them forget it, writing that Division II school's name "in the lowest left-hand corner of our locker room, about a centimeter from the carpet," he said.
"Then we had the NCAA tournament in the far upper right-hand corner of the locker room. It's always been about climbing that mountain and staying with it. These guys have done it. We were here today, and it just didn't work."