Arizona Daily Wildcat
It didn't take very long for the Arizona basketball team to realize that they were going to beat Saint Mary's. The only question that remained was how large the margin would be.
When the final second had expired in McKale Center Saturday night, that margin was 60 points, as the Wildcats handed a school-worst 101-41 loss to the Gaels.
Saint Mary's was over-matched in every formm and yet whomever UA head coach Lute Olson put on the floor, the lead seemed to increase exponentially.
The game couldn't have ended quickly enough for St. Mary's head coach Dave Bollwinkel.
"I am dismayed by our performance tonight," he said. "This is the most embarrassing college basketball game I have ever seen...I apologize to (coach Olson) for bringing this into (McKale Center). I take responsibility for this loss, and we will address this for the future."
In the demoralization, Arizona held Saint Mary's to just 25 percent of its field goals , while four Wildcats proceeded to notch double-digit scoring.
"You just don't feel right about playing a team like this," senior forward Eugene Edgerson said. "We felt sorry for them at times, and there were times on the bench when we just wanted to get the game over with. Overall, this is a game that we won, but we're not too happy with it."
By halftime, sophomore guards Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner had each outscored the entire Saint Mary's team.
When the Wildcats led 52-13 at the break, Arenas and Gardner had 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Things didn't get much better for the Gaels, either.
By the final buzzer, all but two Wildcats had scored, with four starters logging at least 15 points each.
Sophomore forward Luke Walton had a fantasy basketball owner's dream game.
He led the way with 16 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and six steals.
"I felt sorry for those guys, I felt like they were helpless," said Edgerson, who finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds. "We just out-manned them, out-toughed them; we just destroyed them. It makes you feel bad when you're playing a team like that."
Junior forward Michael Wright did not share in Edgerson's sympathy.
"Saint Mary's has been struggling all season, and I think that we wanted to jump on them really early in the first half," he said. "I don't feel sorry for them because it's no mercy when I step on the court. If you let us run over you, we are just going to keep on doing it."
Much to the satisfaction of Arenas, Olson rested his starters and gave the second and third stringers significant minutes.
"It's hard to stay motivated when you are up by so much," Arenas said. "We look for our bench to come in a lot more, so we just have fun with it and hope that everyone can get some playing time."
Walk-on freshman Jason Ranne, sophomore forward Mike Schwertley and senior guard John Ash combined for a season-high 26 minutes.
Once the game was out of reach for the Gaels, the McKale Center crowd entertained itself by encouraging Ash to shoot the ball.
Every time he touched the ball, regardless of where he was on the court or if he was covered, a rousing "Shoot!" came from the stands.
Ash neglected the cheers for several minutes, but appeased the cheers with under two minutes remaining.
While Ash missed his only field goal attempt, Olson didn't share in the fans' eagerness to see him score.
"With John, if the crowd really wanted to help him, they would stop yelling," he said. "It really doesn't give him a chance to just play his game. So, if they want to see him do well, which I think they do, they would be a whole lot better off letting John play without all that added pressure."