TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Chris Rodgers doesn't mind being in the
background. He doesn't mind taking charge, either.
The Arizona guard, usually brought in as the sixth man, tied
career highs with 20 points and seven rebounds to help the
14th-ranked Wildcats outlast Richmond 84-71 in the championship
game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic on Thursday night.
"I'm always confident, and I will always bring intensity and
energy and the complete game," he said.
Richmond coach Jerry Wainwright wasn't surprised.
"I really appreciate Chris Rodgers," Wainwright said. "I've
followed him all along. I've watched tape on him. He is a big guard
who really defends, and when he shoots the ball well he is a great
Ivan Radenovic and Salim Stoudamire had 16 points each for the
Wildcats, who improved to 39-1 in their holiday tournament. They
beat Richmond 95-68 in the first round 10 years ago -- the only
previous meeting between the teams.
Eastern Washington defeated Butler 67-62 for the consolation
Radenovic had nine rebounds -- one short of his career high -- in
24 minutes, leading Arizona (10-2) to a 40-36 edge on the glass.
Channing Frye had 13 points and eight rebounds.
"I thought Ivan came out in the first half and really sparked
us, not only scoring but with the boards," coach Lute Olson said.
The Spiders shot a season-high 64 percent against Butler in a
one-point victory, but Arizona's athletic defenders proved too much
this time, limiting Richmond to 25.9 percent (7-of-27) in the first
half and 38.6 percent (22-of-57) for the game.
"The difference between Arizona and the other top teams that
we've played is that they are very big and strong and are very
long," Scott said. "They had players that could come off the
bench, and they just kept coming at us."
Arizona shot only 44.3 percent (27-of-61), but made 13
3-pointers, had 14 steals and forced 24 turnovers.
The Wildcats overcame a spate of cold shooting sooner than
Richmond, finished the first half with a 16-point lead and made
their first six shots in the second.
The Spiders battled back briefly, helped by a five-point play
with 17:57 left.
Scott made a layup and was fouled by Radenovic, who also was
assessed a technical. Jermaine Bucknor made two technical free
throws and Scott's free throw cut Richmond's deficit to 50-35.
But Rodgers made two 3-pointers in the next 2:05, and the
Wildcats took a 64-40 lead when Stoudamire made two foul shots
after a technical on Merritt.
Their biggest lead was 71-46, on a 3-pointer by Jawann McClellan
with 9 minutes to go, and the Spiders never got closer than the
Both teams missed seven of their first nine shots, and Arizona
didn't get the lead until Frye made a layup with 12:58 remaining in
the first half. That made it 10-8 early in a 21-3 run -- tied for
Arizona's third-best of the year.
Rodgers finished with a 3-pointer, sending the Wildcats to a
27-11 lead with 7:08 to go.
The Spiders answered with a 10-0 run, closing within six points
on a free throw by Merritt with 4:57 left before Stoudamire broke
the spell with a 3-pointer. In the final 4:05, Radenovic had six
points, finishing with 14 at the half, and Arizona moved ahead
42-26 on a three-point play by Frye with 4.7 seconds left.
"I felt good," said Radenovic, who missed most of two games
with a hip pointer. "I'm getting my confidence back after being
out earlier in the season. I've had time lately to work on my