11:45 PM ET, March 12, 2004
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Washington did something to Arizona this season that nobody had in 24 years -- beat the Wildcats three times.In doing so, the Huskies probably locked up a berth in the NCAA tournament.Nate Robinson scored 11 of his 20 points in the final 6:10 Friday night to lead second-seeded Washington past the third-seeded Wildcats 90-85 in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals."Obviously they're a better ballclub than we are -- we're 0-3 against them," Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. "Defensively, it seems like there are six guys out there. When they got shots, they knocked them down."The Huskies shot 32-of-65 (49.2 percent) including 12-of-25 from 3-point range and outrebounded the Wildcats 40-31.The Wildcats, meanwhile, shot 30-of-64 (46.9 percent) including an uncharacteristic 1-for-6 from beyond the arc."Playing a game against Arizona is just like practice -- we just run up and down the floor with them," Washington's Brandon Roy said. "We came out ahead three times."The Huskies will face top-seeded Stanford in Saturday's championship game at Staples Center, with the winner receiving an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. The Cardinal (28-1) beat Oregon 70-63 in the opening semifinal.Washington (19-10), which has won 14 of its last 16 games, handed No. 2 Stanford its only loss of the season, beating the Cardinal 75-62 in Seattle last Saturday.Stanford won the first game between the teams 85-72 on Jan. 4.Neither the Huskies nor the Cardinal have won the Pac-10 tournament.Washington became the first team to beat Arizona three times in a season since 1979-80, when Arizona State accomplished the feat. Nevertheless, the 21st-ranked Wildcats (20-9) seem assured of an NCAA tournament berth.Arizona was going for its fifth Pac-10 tournament title in seven chances.Tre Simmons added 19 points and Roy scored 12 for the Huskies. Curtis Allen and Bobby Jones were both held scoreless in the first half, but had 11 and 10 points, respectively, after halftime. Hakeem Rollins had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskies.Hassan Adams tied his career highs with 30 points and five steals and also had nine rebounds for Arizona. Channing Frye had 20 points and eight rebounds and Andre Iguodala scored 13 for the Wildcats, who lost despite making 24-of-25 free throws to Washington's 14-of-21.Robinson's 3-point play with 4:54 remaining capped a 17-7 spurt and gave the Huskies a 76-66 lead -- largest of the game for either team. Allen scored his team's first eight points during the spurt and Robinson also had eight.A basket by Roy with 2:15 to play made it 84-75, but the Wildcats drew within three points when Robinson lost the ball and Chris Rodgers made an uncontested layup with 48 seconds left.Robinson redeemed himself by making a jumper with 16.4 seconds remaining and the shot clock running down to seal the victory."He gave us a lift -- there's no doubt about it," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said of Robinson, an energetic 5-foot-9 sophomore.Roy made two baskets to open the scoring before Arizona responded with a 15-2 run for a nine-point lead.The Huskies then got hot from long range, making six 3-pointers including three by Simmons and two by Mike Jensen during a 22-9 spurt that put them on top 28-24.A jumper by Robinson as time expired gave Washington a 42-40 halftime lead. Adams had 18 points, seven rebounds and four steals and Simmons had 14 points at that stage.Washington beat Arizona 96-83 and 89-84 in their previous two meetings, but that didn't keep the Wildcats from making it 17 straight seasons with 20 or more wins -- the nation's longest active streak.The Huskies lost their first five conference games before turning it around to finish second in the Pac-10 -- their best showing since 1986."When you have a young club like Lorenzo has, confidence is critical," Olson said. "You can see the way they're playing now -- they're extremely confident. And their bench does a great job."Washington's reserves outscored their Arizona counterparts 40-6."They were hustling, doing things we need to do," Frye said. "They wanted it more. It's something we need to fix."