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Huskies Thwart Men's Basketball's Bid for Conference Clincher
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/28/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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SEATTLE (AP) - Playing his last home game, Washington's Tre Simmons was not about to watch Arizona celebrate a Pac-10 title on the Huskies' court.

Simmons scored 24 points, and No. 14 Washington denied the ninth-ranked Wildcats' bid to win the Pac-10 title outright with a 93-85 win Saturday.

With the victory, the Huskies moved one step closer to their first conference crown in 20 years. Washington can clinch at least a share of its first Pac-10 regular season title since 1985 with a sweep of California and Stanford next weekend.

``Do you know how hard it is for me to hold back and not do what a lot of coaches do and tell you how great of a player Tre Simmons is?'' Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. ``When you look at what we've done this year and what he has done, he has had a phenomenal season.''

It might have been the last home game for Washington's Nate Robinson too. The junior, who considered entering the NBA Draft last year before returning to school, had 22 points for the Huskies (23-4, 13-3 Pac-10).

It was Washington's 22nd straight win at home. Their last home loss was on Jan. 10, 2004, a 86-84 overtime setback to UCLA.

``I was patient and I let everything come to me,'' Robinson said. ``It played out perfect.''

Arizona (24-5, 14-3) will still be co-champs with a win Saturday at Arizona State, but the loss kept Arizona coach Lute Olson from passing UCLA's John Wooden for most Pac-10 victories. Each has 304.

``This hurt, but we're still playing for the Pac-10 championship,'' said Arizona's Channing Frye. The loss snapped the Wildcats seven-game win streak.

Frye scored a game-high 30 points on 13-of-15 shooting for the Wildcats. But Salim Stoudamire, averaging 18.2 points per game, struggled to get into the offense for the second straight game. Stoudamire had 15 points, but missed 2-of-3 free throws with 17 seconds left that could have pulled Arizona within three. He scored only eight against Washington State on Thursday.

``If he gets hot, there's no telling what their team can do,'' Simmons said of Stoudamire. ``You just try and take him out of the game and make somebody else beat you.''

Simmons made his first three 3-point attempts and 5-of-10 overall, igniting the home crowd, many of whom had camped out for days to get prime seats for the game. Simmons had 29 against Arizona State on Thursday, and Saturday was his eighth 20-point performance of the season.

``You hit that first shot and you start to think everything is going to go in,'' Simmons said.

Leading by eight at halftime, Washington scored 10 of the first 14 points to start the second half and led 52-39 with 16:28 remaining.

For much of the half, Arizona could not get closer than six, but two baskets from Hassan Adams and a 3-pointer from Mustafa Shakur cut the lead to 75-74 with 5 minutes left.

Frye was called for goaltending, and then Washington senior Hakeem Rollins outhustled Frye for a rebound, saving it to Robinson who drained a 3-pointer for a 80-74 lead with 3:42 left.

A putback by Rollins and a driving floater by Robinson, over Frye, gave the Huskies a 86-81 lead with 1:15 left.

``Hakeem Rollins had that unbelievable put-back,'' Romar said. ``That may have been the biggest play of the game.''

Adams had 18 for Arizona, while Bobby Jones added 13 for Washington

Frye was dominant on the inside, with five dunks. He attempted, and made, just one shot from outside the key as Arizona scored 58 points in the paint.

But the Wildcats lacked an outside complement, making just 1-of-11 3-point attempts in the first half and 6-of-23 for the game.

``I thought we had them on the run a couple of times, but they did a great job of maintaining their pose,'' Olson said.

Free throws were also telling. In the first matchup, Arizona made a school-record 38-of-40 from the line, but early on it was apparent officials would let the two teams play. Arizona did not attempt a free throw until 14:57 remained in the game and the two teams shot just 30 combined, most coming in the final minutes.

``We talked about defending with our feet and our chest and not committing silly fouls,'' Romar said.

The Wildcats used an aggressive zone defense in the first meeting, forcing Washington into a school-record 34 3-point attempts. Arizona played the same zone on Saturday, but Washington was more patient in its halfcourt offense, attempting just 24 3-pointers, making 11.

``Based on what was at stake, it was a huge performance by our team,'' Romar said.

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