Spirited Huskies Upend No. 9 Arizona, 96-83
Jan 29, 2004
By TIM KORTE
SEATTLE (AP) - Yes, Washington really has a 5-foot-9 point guard who can dunk.
And yes, the Huskies really did blow out a Top 10 opponent.
Nate Robinson scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting and directed a thrilling second-half charge with five steals as Washington stunned No. 9 Arizona 96-83 on Thursday night.
"We had a lot of super glue," Robinson said. "We stuck together like glue."
Robinson had a highlight-reel night for the Huskies (8-8, 3-5 Pac-10) that included an alley-oop dunk by the diminutive point guard who used to play cornerback for Washington's football team.
"The guys on the bench said they saw my face on the rim," he said. "I knew I was high but I didn't think I was that high. All the joy, all the excitement that went into the game, all the passion - that dunk symbolized the game."
The momentum swung on that play, giving Washington a 66-65 lead with 9:32 remaining. The Huskies closed with a 27-12 run, holding the Wildcats (13-4, 5-3) scoreless for a three-minute stretch late in the contest.
"We missed some shots and we gave them a chance to get their run," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "They are very much a momentum team."
"If there's a loose ball, watch for Nate because he will get it," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "That's what he did tonight. He got the loose balls and started fast breaks."
It was Washington's first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 19 Oregon 94-92 on Jan. 24, 2002. Arizona had posted eight straight wins over the Huskies, who shot a remarkable 24-of-26 on free throws.
"We proved we know how to play with the elite teams in the country," Washington forward Bobby Jones said 20 minutes after the game. "I'm still excited. I'm breathing hard, even right now."
At the buzzer, students flooded from the stands to join the Huskies in a midcourt celebration. The Wildcats had to step around the frenzy on their way to the locker room, heading off the floor with heads down.
"We just didn't play together," said Salim Stoudamire, who scored 16 for Arizona. "They got on a roll late in the game. The crowd got behind them and they made all their free throws at the end."
"To beat a ranked team like this is something that hopefully will raise our confidence to a very high level," Romar said. "Still, we're 3-5 in the conference and we have not accomplished anything yet."
The Wildcats struggled down the stretch.
Andre Iguodala missed two free throws and Hassan Adams missed a layup in the final minute. Olson could do little except sit back in his chair with a palm flattened against his cheek.
"Anytime you give up 32 points on turnovers, you're in deep trouble," Olson said.
Adams led Arizona with 19 points while Igoudala had 17 and Mustafa Shakur 13.
Arizona led by double digits shortly after tipoff but the scrappy Huskies rallied to keep it close and trailed 45-40 at the break.
Robinson found Anthony Washington for a short jumper that capped a 13-2 run and gave the Huskies their first lead at 64-62 with 10:31 to play. Robinson hit two free throws seconds earlier to tie it.
Robinson had the play of the night, though, when he caught and alley-oop feed from Curtis Allen and dunked to put Washington up 66-65 one minute later. In the 2002 Apple Cup, Robinson made a key interception in Washington's win at Washington State.
"Nate Robinson is just an unbelievable player, a tremendous competitor," Olson said.
Then Robinson struck again, coming away with a steal in the backcourt during a 14-3 burst that determined the outcome. He started the run by soaring for a rebound and putback when Conroy missed a 3-pointer.
"This makes us even hungrier," Robinson said. "We got a taste of the pie. We've got to get the whole thing. We're so hungry to get more wins and get after people. We have so many goals."