The defining moment of Arizona’s 84-76 win over Washington State on Thursday night came with just more than a minute left and the Wildcats leading 76-74.
It was a crucial possession for UA and, with Reggie Geary trapped near midcourt, WSU’s Shamon Antrum locked up with Damon Stoudamire in a courageous effort to keep the Wildcats’ All-American point guard from getting the basketball.
The effort proved fruitless when Stoudamire broke free and eventually kicked a pass - one of his 11 assists - out to the right wing, where Joe McLean was waiting to drill a decisive 3-point basket.
For nearly 15 seconds, Antrum
shadowed Stoudamire’s every move, somehow staying between him and the ball. But one last head fake and quick step back to the left freed Stoudamire long enough to cradle a hurried pass from Geary.
The exhausting one-on-one battle left both players bent over near midcourt, Stoudamire yo-yoing the dribble and a gasping Antrum still trying to keep his head up.
Then, with the shot clock winding down, Stoudamire summoned enough energy for one more move - a slashing drive to his right. But when Antrum, who played all 40 minutes, somehow cut him off, the savvy UA senior gave the ball up and made a hero out of McLean.
“We were both giving it all we had,” Antrum recalled. “I was running after him in total denial and what we did, I think, was we both wore each other out.
“He was trying to gather himself and I was trying to gather myself. It was just total good defense and then I think he’s going to be the one to take the shot and he gives it up and they bang home a big 3-pointer.
“That crushed me, all the hard work …”
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