Jan 10, 2002
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
Associated Press Writer
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - Jason Gardner wasn't very pleased after No. 20 Arizona's 33rd straight win over Washington State.
Gardner scored 23 points, but Washington State stayed surprisingly close and trailed by just two points with 1:17 left in the Wildcats' 92-85 victory Thursday night.
"Our biggest problem right now is that we are not playing with a sense of urgency," said Gardner, whose 3-pointer with a minute left killed the Cougars' hopes for an upset.
"We keep letting teams back in the game, and we can't do that," Gardner said. "You need all the wins you can in the Pac-10, but right now we are still not playing well."
Luke Walton returned to the lineup after missing three games with an injury for Arizona (10-4, 3-2 Pacific 10). He scored 15 points and dished out 11 assists. Rick Anderson and Salim Stoudamire each added 13 points, and the Wildcats shot 55.7 percent from the floor in the game.
"Certainly the difference in the game was that Washington State missed a lot of easy shots," Arizona coach Lute Olson said.
The Cougars (4-9, 0-5) hit 18 of 19 free throws in the first half and rode 20 first-half points by J Locklier to trail just 44-42 at the break.
But Arizona double-teamed Locklier and held him to just seven points in the second half. And the Cougars hit only 5 of 16 free throws in the second half.
"We just ran dry," said Locklier, whose 27 points were a career high. He added 11 rebounds.
"We were running on all cylinders and then everything just seemed to go down," said Locklier, who attempted only four shots in the second half.
"Their guards are smaller and a little quicker than ours and that gave us some problems," Washington State coach Paul Graham said of Gardner and Stoudamire, who combined for 36 points.
Washington State has not beaten Arizona since Jan. 30, 1986.
Washington State lost its seventh straight game and 29th in a row against a ranked opponent.
Arizona led 44-42 at halftime on a pair of free throws by Gardner with less than two seconds left.
The Wildcats scored the first nine points of the second half as part of a 14-3 run, eight of the points by Gardner, to jump to a 58-45 lead.
Washington State clawed back and Marcus Moore and Locklier scored consecutive baskets to cut Arizona's lead to 81-79 with 1:17 left in the game.
But Gardner's 3-pointer put Arizona ahead 84-79 with a minute left, forcing the Cougars to foul.
Mike Bush had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Washington State.
The game was tied at 16 midway through the first half when the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run, with baskets by five players, to take a 27-16 lead.
The Cougars went almost seven minutes without making a field goal in the first half. But free throws kept them within striking distance as the Cougars sank 18 of 19 in the first half.
Arizona got only three points off free throws in the first half, but shot nearly 60 percent from the floor, making 19 of 32 attempts.
Locklier scored 11 points during a 23-13 Washington State run that left the Cougars just two points down at halftime. Locklier had a career high 20 points in the first half alone.