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All-Access: Wildcats Defeat Eastern Washington, 79-45
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/29/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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By MEL REISNER AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Channing Frye made sure Arizona didn't overlook a struggling opponent.

Frye had 16 points, and the 14th-ranked Wildcats beat Eastern Washington 79-45 Tuesday night to advance to the championship game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic.

The Wildcats will play Richmond, a 69-68 victor over Butler, for the title Thursday night. Arizona is 38-1 in its holiday tournament, losing only to Mississippi State in 2000 while coach Lute Olson was at the bedside of his cancer-stricken wife.

``We want to beat teams bad,'' Frye said. ``We've had enough teams come back on us to know that we can't let it happen again, especially at home.''

Hassan Adams added 13 points and four steals. Frye also had four steals, contributing to Eastern's 24 turnovers.

``It was good, solid defense by everybody, even when we got (into) the bench,'' Olson said.

Marc Axton, a 1,000-point career scorer, went 3-for-12 against Arizona's pressure and finished with seven points. Reserve Paul Butorac had 11 points and Kenny Smith 10.

The Wildcats (9-2) won their sixth straight and handed the Eagles their worst loss of the season _ one point worse than the 33-point defeat at No. 13 Washington on Dec. 5.

``They both are great teams,'' Butorac said. ``It shows why they are the best in the Pac-10.''

Eastern Washington (2-9), a preseason favorite to repeat as Big Sky Conference champion, has lost seven straight during a difficult stretch which began against the Huskies and included consecutive games against Gonzaga and Arizona.

A week earlier, Arizona beat Manhattan 105-75 in its best performance of the year, shooting 52 percent to silence some early season critics. They kept up the sharp shooting against the Eagles, hitting 61.5 percent in the first half and 53.8 percent for the game.

Frye was 7-of-11 from the floor, including 6-of-8 in the first half when he scored 12.

``It was great to have an all-around game,'' Adams said. ``It started defensively. That was big, because we are keeping the defensive intensity up.''

The Wildcats led by 16 points at halftime and squeezed any suspense out of the game with an 18-6 run that featured seven straight points by Adams. Salim Stoudamire had four points during a 9-0 finish to the run, capping it with a spectacular reverse layup.

The 6-minute surge opened a 62-34 lead with 8:56 left, and both coaches sent reserves in to finish the game minutes later.

``They came out flying and were able to get into the passing lanes,'' Eagles coach Mike Burns said. ``We were expecting it, but we just couldn't do anything about it.''

Arizona made 13 of its first 19 shots and forced the Eagles into 13 turnovers by the 7:33 mark of the first half.

Frye made a layup for a 14-4 lead and a jump hook with 12:07 to go, increasing the lead to 16-7.

After a 3-pointer by Butorac, Arizona went on a 13-4 run capped by Daniel Dillon's 3-pointer for a 29-14 lead with 7:33 remaining.

Jawann McClellan, another freshman, gave Arizona its biggest lead of the first half at 39-23 when he made a free throw with 1.9 seconds left after getting an offensive rebound.

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