Washington St 61

(11-15, 4-13 Pac-12)

Arizona 66

(18-10, 11-6 Pac-12)

    8:30 PM ET, March 2, 2006

    McKale Center, Tucson, Arizona

    1 2 T
    WSU 21 4061
    ARIZ 32 3466

    Top Performers

    Washington St: R. Cowgill 10 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    Arizona: M. Shakur 13 Pts, 5 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl

    Arizona 66, Washington State 61

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- When Washington State coach Dick Bennett announced his retirement this week, his team tried to come up with a memorable going-away present.

    An upset win at Arizona would have been perfect. But the Wildcats withstood Washington State's emotional second-half rally and hung on for a 66-61 victory Thursday night in McKale Center.

    Marcus Williams scored 17 points and Mustafa Shakur added 13 as Arizona (18-10, 11-6) closed in on its 22d straight NCAA tournament appearance, the nation's longest active streak. The Wildcats have won five of their last six games.

    "It's probably good that I resigned," Bennett joked after the game. "A few more (losses) and they'd have fired me."

    A year ago in McKale Center, Bennett led the Cougars to their only win in their last 42 games against Arizona. Needing a victory to solidify their NCAA hopes, the Wildcats wasted little time re-establishing their dominance against the eighth-place Cougars, whom they defeated 70-52 Dec. 29 in Pullman.

    "We are playing the best that we have played all year long," Arizona coach Lute Olson. "One of the keys is that Mustafa is running his team and Marcus is a guy who continually comes up big."

    Kyle Weaver had 12 points to lead Washington State (11-15, 4-13), playing for the first time since Bennett announced he would retire after three seasons at Washington State. Bennett, 62, will pass the reins to his son Tony, who is his top assistant.

    In a brief pre-game ceremony, Arizona coach Lute Olson announced that the athletic department would treat Bennett to a weekend at a Tucson-area golf resort.

    Early in the game, it was easy to understand why Bennett might want to retire. Arizona hit six of its first seven shots from the floor, limiting their opponents to 38.5 percent shooting from the floor -- no small achievement against the defense-oriented Cougars, who lead the Pac-10 in field goal defense. Arizona shot 54.2 percent from the floor in the first half.

    Arizona used a 9-2 run to open up a 19-9 lead eight minutes into the game. First Hassan Adams and Shakur hit jump shots. Then, after a dunk by Washington State center Aaron Baynes, Adams fed forward Ivan Radenovic, who was fouled making a lay-up. Radenovic hit the free throw, and Williams made an 18-foot jumper to end the run.

    Arizona got a scare late in the first half when Adams, their leading scorer, strained his left shoulder while blocking a shot. He expects to play Saturday against Washington here.

    A double-digit lead seemed solid against the Pac-10's worst offensive team. The Cougars average 58.3 points per game and shoot 40.7 percent from the floor, both last in the league. They had scored 37, 41 and 37 points in their three previous games.

    Washington State shot 32.1 percent from the floor in the first half. But the Cougars wouldn't fold. They fell behind by 16 points, 45-29, in the first seven minutes of the second half before their shooters began finding their range.

    "I was happy we battled and showed a little grit," said Bennett, whose final regular-season game is Saturday at Arizona State.

    Asked if his players might have been motivated by his retirement announcement, Bennett said, "I would hope, even if it was just joy."

    Washington State closed to within 59-57 with three minutes to play, but Williams hit a driving shot as the shot clock wound down to give Arizona a cushion it wouldn't relinquish. He later added a free throw.

    The Cougars' upset bid died when they committed two turnovers and an offensive foul in the final two minutes.

    "That is what I've done most of my career: take big shots," said Williams, a freshman. "That is a role I invite."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 61 66
    FG Made-Attempted 25-59 (.424) 23-50 (.460)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-20 (.200) 2-5 (.400)
    FT Made-Attempted 7-9 (.778) 18-23 (.783)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 12 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 16

    2005-06 Season

    Dec 29, 2005 ARIZ 70, @WSU 52Recap
    » Mar 2, 2006 @ARIZ 66, WSU 61Recap