Wildcats Slip By Saint Louis
Dec. 6, 2003
ST. LOUIS - A smaller shoe size perhaps, and Saint Louis takes No. 7 Arizona to overtime.
Instead, the Wildcats made a narrow escape with a 68-67 victory Saturday after Reggie Bryant's potential game-tying shot from the top of the key with 3.1 seconds to go was ruled a 2-point basket. Instead, Salim Stoudamire's two free throws with 12 seconds to go had clinched it.
'I saw his foot on the line,' said Andre Iguodala, who led Arizona with 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. 'It was a 2. We just wanted to get the ball inbounds and hold it.'
Saint Louis (3-2) wasn't arguing the call, which was confirmed after a quick replay review. But it was a strange ending with several Billikens apparently believing the basket was a 3-pointer and not fouling after the ensuing inbounds pass.
After the game, Bryant said he knew he was on the line. He had been closely guarded by Mustafa Shakur and stepped forward to create some space.
'I didn't have time to step back,' Bryant said. 'I just tried to get up in the air and draw a foul.'
Billikens coach Brad Soderberg also knew it was a 2-pointer.
'I saw it right away and I couldn't communicate it to our guys that we were down one,' he said. 'They thought it was tied but he did step on the line.'
Arizona (2-1) was frustrated throughout by Saint Louis' man-to-man defense and patient attack and trailed by 12 points in the first half and as many as nine in the second half. The Wildcats took their first lead at 49-48 on two free throws by Hassan Adams with 11:24 to go, part of a 21-4 run.
Chris Rodgers hit two of 3-pointers at the end of the run to make it 58-50 with 8:02 remaining.
'We feel we didn't play up to our potential in the first half,' Stoudamire said. 'We came together and we wanted to fight, to fight to the end.'
But Arizona, which beat Saint Louis 91-58 last year in Tucson, Ariz., couldn't shake the Billikens. Saint Louis twice cut the gap to one in the final minute, also getting a three-point play from Chris Sloan to make it 66-65 with 14 seconds left.
Not bad for a team coming off a nine-point loss at West Virginia on Tuesday.
'I was really concerned we'd get blown out of the gym,' Soderberg said. 'The kids executed our game plan really well.'
Stoudamire added 19 points, including the first of the two late free throws which he made despite shooting as a rubber ball thrown from the stands hit him.
Adams had 14 points and Rodgers added 10 for Arizona. Iguodala had five assists for the Wildcats, who play No. 8 Texas on Tuesday and No. 24 Marquette next Saturday.
'We weren't patient on offense in the first half,' Adams said. 'We've got to be patient on both ends. We'll get better after more practice situations.'
Arizona rebounded from a 78-77 loss to Florida on Nov. 28 despite an off-game from Channing Frye, who entered the game averaging 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. Frye was held to seven points and seven rebounds.
'They did a good job of jamming the middle so Frye could not be much of a factor,' coach Lute Olson said.
Saint Louis, which shot only 29 percent from 3-point range in its first four games, was 9-for-25 against Arizona. Bryant was 5-for-11 and Josh Fisher and Anthony Drejaj each hit two from long range.
Fisher and Drejaj each had 12 points and Sloan added 11.
Saint Louis went 6:06 between baskets late in the half and the lead was shaved to three points, but Drejaj hit a layup with 40 seconds left and then hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Arizona played in St. Louis for the first time since Dec. 11, 1957, when it lost 61-52 to Washington University. That school is now a member of Division III.
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer