By Monty Phan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The setting: An Arizona men's Pac-10 basketball game at McKale Center locked in a tie with less than 10 seconds left. The point guard for the Wildcats' opposition drives the lane, hangs in the air, and drains a 15-footer with a man in his face for the eventual game-winner. He is:
A: UCLA's Darrick Martin.
B: Cal's K.J. Roberts.
C: Both of the above.
If you guessed "C", then you've got a pretty good memory.
In a game that in more ways than one resembled the UA's 89-87 loss to UCLA three years ago, California marched into McKale yesterday afternoon and edged out a 74-72 victory in front of a capacity crowd of 14,257. It was the Golden Bears' second straight win in Tucson.
Arizona head coach Lute Olson and the Wildcats' two seniors Ä Damon Stouda-mire and Ray Owes, the only players who played in the loss to the Bruins three years ago Ä all agreed on the similarities between the two shots. The results were also similar: Martin's shot ended the UA's nation-leading 71-game home winning streak, while Roberts' shot assured Arizona of two home Pacific 10 Conference losses, the first time that has occurred since the 1986-87 season.
"(Cal) coach (Todd) Bozeman told me to concentrate on penetration and get into the paint," Roberts said. "I crossed over one time and had Damon on his heels. It was pretty much all athleticism once I got the shot."
"(Compared to Martin's shot) it was a similar kind of thing Ä drive in the lane, great pressure on the shot," Olson said. "From a defensive standpoint, I thought Damon did everything he could do."
Down by as many as 17 in the second half, the ninth-ranked Wildcats (18-5 overall, 8-3 in the Pac-10) battled back to cut the lead to six on an Owes' dunk at the 11:21 mark, as Cal (12-8, 4-7) went scoreless for almost four minutes. But a technical foul on the Arizona bench slowed the home team's momentum Ä however, the Wildcats managed to regroup and put the pressure on again two minutes later, scoring eight consecutive points and tying the game with just over six minutes left on a Stoudamire free throw.
But Cal was relentless, turning around to score eight straight from its end, as the Bears got back-to-back three-pointers from Randy Duck and Monty Buckley, and a 15-footer from Ryan Jamison. On the UA's next possession, Ben Davis forced his way into the paint and tipped in an Owes miss while getting fouled on the play; his extra free throw cut it to five with under four minutes left. Two and a half minutes later, Owes converted a layup to cut the lead to one point with 1:19 left. After Buckley made the second of two free throws, Stoudamire drove the left side of the lane, stopping to put up a leaner from 12 feet away. The attempt fell short, but Owes was there to tip it in, tying the game at 72 with 13.9 seconds left.
It looked as though the seniors would be the heroes again. Then Roberts stole the show, hitting his shot with 1.6 seconds left Ä his only two points of the game.
"We can't go out there and play 20 minutes, we've got go out there and play 40 minutes," said junior guard Joe McLean. "We weren't expecting (Roberts) to take the shot. We were just trying to contain. He hit a big shot."
"We played (the shot) the best we could," said Owes, who finished with game highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds. "There's nothing you can do about that."
The Wildcats dug themselves a hole early, going almost six minutes without a field goal as Cal used a 16-4 first-half run to build an 11-point lead. The lead would grow to as much as 14 in the first half before Arizona's Miles Simon hit a pair of free throws to get it under 10 points, as Cal went into the locker room with a 41-32 lead. It was Simon's first action since he injured his index finger Ä ironically Ä to the Bears Jan. 12.
"You can see it on everybody's faces, it's a tough loss," said Simon, who finished with six points and two steals in his return. "We just didn't shoot the way we should have. I don't think everybody had the right mental capacity for this game."
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