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December 31, 2005

Wildcats edge Huskies in double overtime

The game may not have ended the way the Huskies would have liked, but basketball fans won't be asking for their money back. The Arizona Wildcats edged the Huskies 96-95 in a double overtime thriller that ended with Arizona's Kirk Walters hitting the game winning free throw and snapping Washington's 11-game winning streak while ending its nation-leading run of 32 straight victories at home.

Walters sank only one of two free throws following a surprising loose-ball foul call on Jon Brockman while the two crashed the glass fighting for the rebound, but it was enough to win the game.

"It certainly wasn't the way I thought it would end said Arizona's Marcus Williams. "The way the game was going, I thought it would end with a dunk or a three pointer, but it was definitely a nice homecoming for me." Williams, a Seattle native, prepped at Roosevelt High School and finished the game with 16 points and nine rebounds.

While the deciding point may have been less dramatic, the contest had its share of clutch plays and star performances. Senior Brandon Roy hit a buzzer-beating three pointer to tie the game at 90 and force a second overtime.

Prior to Roy's heroics, Arizona's Mustafa Shakur sank a pair off free throws after being fouled by Joel Smith to give the Wildcats 90-87 advantage.

"Brandon Roy is a phenomenal player," said Arizona's Hassan Adams who had a team- and career-high 32 points. "That guy has the biggest heart and he made some big plays. That's what he's supposed to do. The win feels good, but don't take anything away from Washington. They're a good team."

Despite scoring a career-high 35 points for the second game in a row, Roy, who also grabbed nine rebounds, shouldered most of the responsibility for the loss after the game. "I think we got a little too content trying to outscore them," said Roy. "They played a great game, but we did some things to let them back in. Part of it was me. I missed a lot of shots down the stretch. I made the shots at the end, but I missed a lot that could have helped keep the lead." Roy finished the contest shooting 13-29 from the field.

Washington appeared to be on pace for its 12th win in a row. The Huskies closed out the half on a 10-0 run and had a 40-27 lead following two straight three-point baskets by Ryan Appleby.

The Wildcats, however, turned up the defense in the second half. Arizona has one of the best defensive backcourts in the Pac-10. Adams, who entered the game leading the conference in scoring with 19.8 points per game, collected four steals while Mustafa Shakur added two more. The Wildcats as a team forced 19 turnovers.

"That was definitely the biggest game of my career since I've been at Arizona," said Shakur. "And to do it on the road was great." He finished with 23 points and nine assists for the Wildcats.

Fouls proved to be the critical factor in both overtime frames. While Arizona was able to keep its scorers on the floor, Washington saw four of its five starters foul out of the game. The first to exit was Huskies point guard Justin Dentmon. Dentmon fouled out with just over 50 seconds remaining in regulation for the first time in his career. Dentmon was followed in the second overtime by Bobby Jones, Roy and finally Brockman.

"It was hard to watch from the sidelines," said Dentmon who was held to just seven points. "We didn't execute the way we should have. (Arizona) got up and down the floor a little faster than we did and really beat us at our own game."

After Dentmon departed Appleby took over the point guard position and Washington's offense did not appear to run as smoothly. "(Dentmon) has become such a big part of what we are doing," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. "You look at that situation and you can't sniffle or cry about it. That is how it was…We probably weren't as poised as we should have been."

Arizona led 77-70 with 1:54 to go in regulation but Washington's Joel Smith and Brandon Roy each made critical three-pointers to keep Washington in the game. Smith finished with five points while teammate Jamaal Williams had a quiet 22 points for the Dawgs.

"We are proud of how our guys came out in the second half," said Arizona head coach Lute Olsen. "In the first half we could not buy a basket. Washington made us take the shots they wanted us to take."

Arizona took 15 three-point attempts in the first half and made only one. The Wildcats, who entered today's play absent from the nations top 25 college teams are hoping this win earns them a little more respect.

With the win, Arizona improves to 9-3 overall and 2-0 in conference play. Arizona's losses have come against some of the nation's toughest competition. Arizona lost 79-70 to No. 3 Connecticut and suffered a 74-71 loss to No. 12 Michigan State at the EA Sports Maui Invitational in November.

"Hopefully other teams will start to notice us a little more," said Adams. "But it definitely gives us a little more confidence heading into Pac-10 play."

Points: Roy 35, Williams 22, Appleby 12, Jones 8, Dentmon 7, Smith 5, Brockman 4, Jensen 2.
Rebounds: Roy 11, Brockman 9, Dentmon 8, Williams 7 Smith 4, Jensen 4 Appleby 3, Gasser, Jones.
Assists: Dentmon 6, Roy 4, Williams 3, Appleby 2, Jones.
Steals: Dentmon, Williams, Roy, Smith
Blocks: Williams 3, Roy 1 Smith 1
Turnovers: Dentmon 4, Appleby 4, Smith 3, Jones 3, Jensen 2, Williams, Brockman, Roy.


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