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Men's Hoops: Cats edge Cougars in OT

By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, February 25, 2005
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Frye nets career-high 26 points in close win

It almost happened again.

But this time, Ivan Radenovic and the

No. 9 Arizona men's basketball team escaped with a 57-56 overtime victory over Washington State at Friel Court last night.

As Derrick Low's last-second 3-pointer clanked off the front rim and Radenovic clutched the rebound, the Wildcats were less jubilated than they were relieved, knowing they were almost swept by Washington State for the first time since the 1982-83 season.

Just 9.7 seconds before, Arizona (24-4, 14-2) was down 56-55 when Radenovic was fouled driving to the basket.

The sophomore forward knocked down two free throws to give the Wildcats the decisive one-point lead.

"It was a huge win," said Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner. "It's what we had to have."

The win was No. 304 in the Pacific 10 Conference for Arizona head coach Lute Olson, tying him with John Wooden for first place all-time.

Senior center Channing Frye, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise ugly game, led Arizona with 26 points, tying his career high.

Frye made his first nine shots of the game and gave the Wildcats the lead for the first time all night with 5:19 remaining in regulation with a jump shot off the glass from about 12 feet away.

"He played great," Pastner said of Frye, whose eight rebounds made him the third player in UA history to grab 900 in a career. "Ivan and Channing really stepped up."

Washington State (10-14, 5-10) battled back, taking a 49-45 lead with 2:34 left in the game on a Thomas Kelati jumper.

Senior guard Salim Stoudamire made two free throws to cut the lead to two, and Frye made a jump shot with 53 seconds remaining to tie the game at 49.

After the Cougars turned the ball over, Stoudamire had a chance to win it, but Kelati stripped him of the ball and passed it up the court to Low, whose last-second heave fell harmlessly to the court.

Frye shot 11-of-13 from the field, while the rest of the Wildcats shot just 9-of-31.

They received no help from long distance, making 1-9 from behind the arc.

Stoudamire, coming off a win Sunday over Oregon State in which he hit nine 3-pointers, failed to make any last night, going 1-of-7 from the field.

He did, however, make six free throws in as many tries, including two in overtime.

Defensively, Stoudamire locked on Kelati, who scored 16 points on 6-of-14 from the field, compared to his 27 points in the teams' last meeting.

Radenovic ended up with 10 points and eight rebounds, but it was his two free throws that saved the day for the Wildcats.

"Ivan's free throws were big time," Pastner said. "He stepped up big."

Washington State slowed down the tempo, taking the shot clock down to single digits on many of their possessions, forcing Arizona to walk the ball up the floor. "Washington State played great, but we got the win, we got the 'W,'" Pastner said. "That's all that matters."

The Arizona bench scored just one point, on a free throw by freshman guard Jawann McClellan. Olson had emphasized the importance of bench play during the team's weekly press conference.

The Wildcats travel to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies tomorrow in a showdown for first place in the Pac-10.

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