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Wildcats ambushed in Oakland

By Seth Doria
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 26, 1999
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Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Freshman forward Richard Jefferson (44) goes up for a basket in front of Golden Bear senior forward Thomas Kilgore (15) at the New Arena in Oakland. Jefferson scored 10 points as the No. 7 Wildcats lost to Cal 89-76.

OAKLAND - In what was supposed to be a lead-in to the most important game of the year for the UA men's basketball team, the California Golden Bears again proved why there is no such thing as an easy road game in the Pacific 10 Conference.

The No. 7 Wildcats (20-5, 11-4 Pac-10) were supposed to play first place Stanford Saturday in a game that would not only decide the conference champion but perhaps who got the number one seed in the Western Regional of the NCAA Tournament.

Instead, Arizona will be trying to rebound after an 89-76 loss to the Golden Bears (15-10, 6-9) in which the Wildcats shot only 43 percent from the floor and 53 percent from the foul line.

Perhaps even more perplexing than those percentages was that through the first 10 minutes, the team looked like it did when Arizona blew out California by 17 points in Tucson earlier this season.

The Wildcats came out at the New Arena in Oakland, Calif., burning the nets, hitting five of their first six three-point attempts on their way to building a 22-12 lead.

But the Wildcats seemed to relax at that point and before they knew what had happened, the Bears had taken a 52-40 lead at halftime.

No. 7 ARIZONA 76

ARIZONA (20-5) Wright 4-10 2-3 10, Jefferson 4-9 2-2 10, Bramlett 8-12 0-1 16, Douglas 7-17 0-1 17, Terry 5-14 3-8 17, Anderson 0-3 2-2 2, Wilson 0-1 0-0 0, Edgerson 2-2 0-0 4, Wessel 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 30-69 9-17 76.

CALIFORNIA (15-10) Lampley 9-13 2-5 20, Gill 5-10 1-5 13, Elson 3-6 0-0 6, Kilgore 3-9 10-10 16, Carlisle 8-16 2-2 21, Boyd 1-4 0-0 3, Hughes 2-3 0-0 4, King 2-3 2-2 6, Gates 0-0 0-0 0, Gordon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 33-64 17-24 89. Halftime - California 52, Arizona 40. Three-point goals - Arizona 7-22 (Terry 4-8, Douglas 3-7, Wilson 0-1, Wessel 0-1, Jefferson 0-2, Anderson 0-3), California 6-12 (Carlisle 3-5, Gill 2-2, Boyd 1-2, King 0-1, Kilgore 0-2). Fouled out - None. Rebounds - Arizona 36 (Wright 8), California 40 (Lampley 11). Assists - Arizona 20 (Terry 9), California 14 (Kilgore, Carlisle, King 3). Total fouls - Arizona 19, California 16. Technicals - Elson, Carlisle. A -13,534.

"You come out with a 10-point lead and then stop playing defense (and) there goes your lead," said senior point guard Jason Terry, who finished with 17 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and six steals. "You've got to play defense first."

While Terry did his job on defense, holding Cal guard Thomas Kilgore to two points in the first half and Geno Carlisle to five points in the second half, he didn't have much help as the Bears shot 52 percent from the floor for the game.

"They did a great job offensively, but we allowed them to do that," UA head coach Lute Olson said. "We have a difficult time defensively. It seems like we can stop them in some spots and not in others."

One spot the Wildcats definitely could not guard was at power forward, where Cal's Sean Lampley collected 20 points and 11 rebounds. UA forward Michael Wright finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, but often looked lost under the pressure from Lampley, Solomon Hughes, Carl Boyd and Francisco Elson.

"It's frustrating, in terms of getting the young guys to understand the game is about defense," Olson said. "It's probably a natural process that needs to be there but as you play longer, it's something that will take care of itself."

While there was little positive emotion in the Wildcats' locker room after the game, one bright spot was the offensive play of freshman guard Ruben Douglas.

Douglas had been benched in favor of Rick Anderson but got the start last night and had a career night on offense with 17 points and five assists in 28 minutes. Douglas actually took more shots than Terry, who only hit one of six field goal attempts in the second half, while Douglas hit on seven of his 17 shots, including three three-pointers.

Down 64-48 five minutes into the second half, Douglas scored seven straight points for the Wildcats to close the lead to 66-55. But every time it looked like Arizona might make a more substantial move, mistakes gave the ball and the momentum back to Cal and the 13,534 fans in attendance.

"You can't trade baskets when you're down 12," Terry said. "It's tough for us to win a game right now."

The Wildcats will practice tomorrow before heading to Stanford Saturday to take on the Cardinal, who beat Arizona State 87-77 in overtime last night.

And as aggravated as Olson often gets with his freshmen, he also has to appreciate their ability to bounce back after a loss.

"We're definitely good enough (to win at Stanford)," said Richard Jefferson, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds. "Stanford is human. It's not like they're some kind of robot. They're going to make mistakes and we just have to capitalize on them."