TUCSON, Ariz. — Chase Budinger was having a hard time hitting anything, but once the defensive effort started to pick up, so did his shot as he scored 19 points in Arizona’s 66-56 victory over Washington State on Saturday.
The Wildcats, after shooting 31 percent in the first half, went on a 24-2 run after Washington State built a seven-point lead with nearly 14 minutes remaining.
That is when Budinger, and Arizona’s defense, went to work.
“At halftime we told Chase we loved the shots he was taking. He had great looks, they just didn’t go in,” Arizona coach Russ Pennell said. “The one thing we wanted him to do was be more aggressive going to the basket and start driving the ball more.”
Budinger, who made only 1 of his first 12 shots from the field, scored 10 points during the big second half scoring outburst. He added a three-point play to secure the win with two minutes remaining after the Cougars cut the lead to 10.
Budinger ended up making just 5 of 17 shots, but he also had 11 rebounds and seven assists without a turnover.
“It was our defense. We got some key steals and were able to get out and run and people were able to knock down some big shots,” Budinger said. “It was able to put us over the top.”
Jordan Hill finished with 16 points for Arizona (14-8, 4-5). Kyle Fogg added 15.
Taylor Rochestie led Washington State (19-9, 4-5) with 22 points. Aron Baynes had 12.
“They came out and extended the pressure a little more and we got rattled,” Washington State coach Tony Bennett said. “We got trapped on the sideline. I was disappointed we got rattled. We work on trapping against pressure. We had the bad stretch and our defense let down.”
Budinger and Zane Johnson had consecutive three-pointers to cap the scoring spree to go ahead 56-41 with 4:23 left.
Rochestie ended a nearly six-minute Washington State scoring drought with a short jumper to slow down Arizona to get within seven points.
“We know how fiery they can get. When their crowd gets behind them and they get rolling they get all the confidence in the world to come down and shoot down their shots,” Rochestie said. “When we are turning the ball over and missing shot we still have to get back and make stops and that is something we were not doing.”
Nic Wise started a 16-0 barrage with a three-pointer, his first bucket of the game, to give Arizona a 48-39 lead with 8:42 remaining.
Budinger had a three-pointer and then added a base-line drive and a pair of free throws before Fogg capped off the 16-0 run with a baseline drive for the nine-point cushion. Rochestie’s jumper had given the Cougars a 39-32 edge.
Washington State scored the final six points to take a 28-23 lead at halftime, sparked by a three-pointer from Rochestie.