By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Senior guard Salim Stoudamire's clutch 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left in Arizona's 76-73 win over UCLA Saturday was indicative of how the entire contest went for the Wildcats.
It was a matter of different players doing exactly what needed to be done at exactly the right time to push the No. 13 Wildcats to 14-3 and 4-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference.
Stoudamire, who was named Pac-10 Player of the Week, took charge of the scoring.
He netted 32 points, and most importantly, the aforementioned trey with 10 seconds left to win the game.
UA head coach Lute Olson said he believes Stoudamire is one of the best shooters in the country, and given how he has been shooting the ball in most of the games this season, it is hard to disagree with him.
The Portland native was 9-of-10 in the second half to finish the game 11-for-16, but it was not only the offensive output by Stoudamire that pushed Arizona to the victory.
Sophomore point guard Mustafa Shakur added seven points and four assists, a very average day on offense; however, his efforts on the defensive end gave Stoudamire and others opportunities to score points.
With just over 11 minutes remaining in the game, Arizona was still playing catch-up with UCLA. The Wildcats had not been able to hold a lead of more than a point in the half. When Shakur flew over press row to beat a UCLA player to a ball going out of bounds, it led to a momentum shift in the Wildcats' favor. The hustled effort by the sophomore point guard ended in Stoudamire's 3-pointer, bringing the Wildcats to within one point of UCLA.
"I just saw the opportunity to get the ball and I just went for it," Shakur said of the play. "I wasn't worried about where I was at. I've done that many times - it's just like being outside playing on the playground, so it wasn't that big of a deal."
Maybe it wasn't a big deal to him, but after that the Wildcats got the lead and maintained it for almost four minutes. It was their longest leading stretch up to that point. After Shakur's dive into the stands, the Wildcats only trailed once more, at the 7:25 mark when the UA was down 59-60.
Shakur also had seven rebounds, all on the defensive end.
"He played really, really well today. He came out and played with intensity and with confidence," Olson said of Shakur's performance.
Olson also said he was pleased with the performance of sophomore forward Kirk Walters, who was playing in just his second game of the season after being brought out of his redshirt.
In the first five minutes of the second half, Walters kept the Wildcats within reach of the Bruins. UCLA had a 40-48 lead, tied for their largest of the game. After a shot by sophomore forward Ivan Radenovic, Walters put in a basket and made it a 3-point play on his foul shot. Less than a minute later, Walters put up a shot that drew a goaltending call on UCLA to get the basket. The Wildcats were down just 47-48 after Walters' efforts.
"You can see why we pulled Kirk Walters out of redshirt. I thought he did a really good job for us," Olson said.
Walters finished with five points, five boards and two blocked shots. It may not seem like a lot, but the timing of his points and blocked shots put the Wildcats in a position to win.