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Men's Basketball Falls to Huskies in Conference Title Game
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/13/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Little Nate Robinson and 14th-ranked Washington kept whispering to Salim Stoudamire's Arizona teammates. At the buzzer, the Huskies were the ones shouting with joy at winning the school's first Pac-10 tournament title.

Robinson scored six points - his only ones of the second half - in the final 1:07 of Washington's 81-72 upset victory over No. 8 Arizona on Saturday.

The Huskies (27-5) earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, although Arizona (27-6) is assured of a berth, too.

``It feels great,'' Robinson said. ``We're proud of the whole University of Washington because we did it for them.''

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar compared the game to a prize fight.

``One punch after another,'' he said. ``Arizona brings out the best in us because for so long they have been the best.''

The Huskies won their three tourney games by a total of 17 points; Arizona won its first two by a total of 56 points.

Washington outscored the Wildcats 19-4 over the final 5:12 after trailing by six points. The Huskies dominated the boards, 41-26, including a 17-8 offensive edge. All but two of Washington's nine players grabbed rebounds, with Robinson getting five.

``No question the team that played the hardest won the ballgame,'' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. ``They're one of the few teams that can send five people to the offensive boards and are quick enough to recover defensively.''

Robinson and Tre Simmons led the Huskies with 18 points each and Jamaal Williams added 16.

Stoudamire led Arizona with 37 points _ two off both his career high and Reggie Miller's tournament record. Stoudamire hit seven 3-pointers and the teams combined for 17 3-pointers _ both tournament records. He was selected the tourney MVP.

Stoudamire scored 17 straight to end the first half.

``You got to keep telling the other guys he doesn't want to pass you the ball and that's what we did,'' said Robinson, a sly smile on his face. ``A couple whispers ... it kills the other team's confidence.''

Robinson defended Stoudamire and compared it to playing without his hands. ``You just got to run around and chase him,' he said. ``We said, `He's going to score, but we can't let the role players get their 15 and 8.'''

Robinson joked that he told Stoudamire the Arizona star was going to have to score 100 points to beat the Huskies. Asked if he really said that, Robinson replied, ``No, because he would have gone for 50.''

Stoudamire set the Pac-10 career record for 3-pointers with 329, breaking the mark of 323 by Arizona State's Stevin Smith from 1991-94. The senior finished with 107, joining Steve Kerr, cousin Damon Stoudamire and Jason Gardner as the only Wildcats to top the century mark in a season.

But he couldn't help the Wildcats to their record fifth tourney title. They are 4-1 in championship games.

``I wanted to be the guy that everyone looks up to, but at the same time, we got to stay within the team concept,'' Stoudamire said. ``We got away from that.''

The Huskies scored six straight and tied it at 70 on two free throws by Bobby Jones after Chris Rodgers was called for holding with 3:34 remaining.

Arizona's Channing Frye scored inside before Will Conroy hit his fourth 3-pointer of the half for a 73-72 lead with 2:15 to go. Frye finished with 14 points.

With Frye and Stoudamire tightly guarded, Hassan Adams missed a jumper from the top of the key.

The 5-foot-9 Robinson fearlessly drove inside and scored to keep the Huskies ahead 75-72 with 1:07 left.

``Nate always comes up big when the game is on the line,'' Olson said.

Stoudamire tripped and fell in front of Arizona's bench, losing the ball out of bounds with 46 seconds left.

Asked if he was tripped, Stoudamire said, ``I think so, but obviously the ref didn't. You can't let referees decide the game. We should've been ahead by a lot more.''

A smiling Olson said he also believed Stoudamire was tripped. ``But who am I to question that call? That one call didn't cost us the game,'' Olson said.

Then Stoudamire fouled Robinson, who made both free throws, for a 77-72 lead with 34 seconds left. Simmons made two free throws, then Stoudamire's jumper bounced off the rim with 26 seconds to go.

Robinson stole the ball at midcourt, got fouled and made both for an 81-72 lead with 19 seconds left.

The momentum switched to the Huskies coming out of halftime. They outscored Arizona 13-6 to trail 47-46, with Simmons scoring seven points in a row and Conroy hitting a 3-pointer.

Williams put Washington ahead for the first time in the game, 50-49, on an inside basket with 12:59 remaining. Conroy hit a 3-pointer for a 58-53 lead as the Huskies used his outside shooting and Williams' inside baskets to go up 62-58.

The Wildcats got the lead back, 64-62, on Stoudamire's 3-pointer _ his seventh _ with 7:55 remaining. It came after Adams' 3-pointer that launched 10 straight points by the Wildcats.

Stoudamire scored on a short jumper, then beat three Washington defenders down the court and passed to Frye, who dunked for a 68-62 lead with 5 minutes to go.

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