TUCSON--The first half was Wildcat Chase Budinger’s and the second was led by the overall work of Mustafa Shakur as Arizona handily beat its in-state rival Northern Arizona, 101-79, Wednesday night in McKale Center.
Actually, Budinger never stopped shining, leading the way for
Budinger did all his scoring in 29 minutes played, and left at the 9:30 mark to a rousing ovation. Shakur played 23 minutes. He, too, watched from the bench as UA’s reserves came in to finish the game.
The Cats had a 31-point lead, 82-51, with 11 minutes remaining and their starters in the game, but the Lumberjacks outscored UA 26-10 in the next seven minutes and
UA came out an outscored NAU by a margin of 24-10 to open the second half, with Shakur leading the way in the streak with nine points.
The complexion of the game, reasonably close in the first half, changed swiftly after the break and by the time Jawann McClellan scored on a three-point play at the 12-minute mark, UA was up by 26 points.
The game was played before a crowd of 13,511, the lowest for a regular-season Wildcat home game in 19 years due to unsold student section tickets.
It was the smallest announced paid attendance in a regular-season game since 13,436 ?- a sellout in then 13,162-seat McKale ?- fans attended the March 11, 1988,
The first half was a Budinger coming-out show, and the freshman forward’s hot shooting (nine-for-12) helped the Cats hit 58 percent from the floor, the primary reason for their 48-40 lead at the break. Shakur had six assists in the half, many to Budinger.
Budinger hit his first five shots, including two three-pointers, to fuel a Wildcat splurge and pace
Marcus Williams’ breakaway jam put UA up 11-5, then Budinger’s second three-pointer made it 14-7 at the first media timeout. A short while later, Budinger fed Williams for another fastbreak dunk to cap a Wildcat 8-0 run.
Ruben Boykin hit a jumper to stop that glut and make it 19-7.
Budinger hit his third three-pointer at the 13-minute mark, but the Lumberjacks kept at it and Kyle Landry hit a jumper and finished a three-point play with a free throw to put NAU down 26-18 at the 11:57 mark.
By the eight-minute mark, Budinger had 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting, but the Jacks battled tough to cut the lead to eight, 33-25, before Budinger’s fast break dunk off a Shakur pass gave him his 17th point and re-upped the lead to double digits.
Another dunk, this on a baseline move, gave him 19, but NAU answered with a pair of buckets and stayed close, 40-34, on the latter, a three-pointer by Deveric Taylor.
The Chase show continued, with Budinger hitting another three to give him 22 points, then went to the line and hit one of two shots a short while later.
Despite all that, NAU kept hitting close-in shots on cuts to the basket to stay reasonably close. Ryan McCurdy’s two-foot scoop shot closed the first half scoring and cut the lead to 48-40.