Cats Best Beavers Behind Williams' 22 Points
By Michelle Smith
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LOS ANGELES - This time last year, Arizona walked off the floor with a first-round loss in the Pac-10 Tournament, absorbing the reality that for the first time in 25 years the Wildcats would not be going to the NCAA Tournament.
Twelve months later it is a much different story. Sean Miller's team is a No. 1 seed, not a first-round loser, and the Wildcats don't look anything close to being done.
Arizona got 22 points from Pac-10 Player of the Year Derrick Williams
and rebounded from an early deficit to defeat Oregon State 78-69 in the
quarterfinal round of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament.
The Wildcats move on to face USC (19-13) in the semifinal round on Friday evening. Arizona (26-6) and the Trojans split their regular-season series.
"In March, it's all about 'Did you win or lose?'" said Wildcats coach Sean Miller. "If you win, you play another day and we all know we are in for a difficult challenge against USC.
"We are playing a quality team tomorrow and we need to be at our best to beat them on a neutral court."
Oregon State played gamely as a No. 9 seed, but fell short and ended their season at 11-20.
Arizona watched the Beavers jump out to an early 8-2 lead before going on a big run to close the first half behind Williams, who made 5 of 6 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc in the game. The Wildcats took their first lead of the game at 24-22 with 7:49 to go on a 3-pointer by Lamont Jones.
Oregon State was within 40-37 at the half, but three straight 3-pointers by Arizona to open the second half pushed the lead to double-digits. The Beavers were 6 of 16 from the free-throw line.
"You look at that and we lose by (nine)...there you have it right there," said Oregon State coach Craig Robinson. "I'd much rather be playing tomorrow and for a while I was excited about what was going on, but that stretch where they hit the three 3's and we couldn't get past that 10 point (margin)."
Arizona also got 13 points each from Kevin Parrom and Lamont Jones. Parrom did all of his scoring in the second half.
Arizona hit 11 3-pointers in the game to keep Oregon State at arm's length.
The Beavers cut the lead to 58-51 with 12:42 left in the second half, but Arizona responded with a 10-0 run to end the comeback.
Oregon State was led by 23 points by sophomore Jared Cunningham, who had 19 of those points in the first half. But Cunningham, who matched a career-high with 24 points against Stanford in Thursday's play-in game, struggled down the stretch of the game and didn't score for the final 14:43.
Ahmad Starks added 17 points for Oregon State, including four 3-pointers.