The Arizona Wildcats struggled mightily on Saturday afternoon in front of a pro-Gonzaga crowd in Seattle as they fell 71-60. The UA fell behind 14-0 to begin the game, and despite a few attempts at a big rally in the second half, a lack of rebounding ultimately did the team in.
The story of the game came with about five minutes remaining in the contest. Arizona was within a few possessions and were on defense. After solid play for 25 seconds, they forced big man Robert Sacre to take a poor, off balance shot. With three Wildcats around the rebound, Gonzaga forward Elias Harris, who finished with 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting, tipped the ball off the backboard and somehow made the basket.
One box-out or one inch to the right and that ball doesn't go in. Neither happened. That was the story of the game for the Wildcats.
Similar to the San Diego State loss, Arizona simply could not overcome the early deficit. Until the team learns to focus for the entire 40 minutes and get off to better starts, it's tough to see them making much of a run in March Madness.
Nick Johnson led the way with 13 points and five assists. Kyle Fogg added 12 of his own, while Jesse Perry and Jordin Mayes scored nine each. Kyryl Natyazhko contributed for the first time in weeks on the defensive end of the floor, containing Robert Sacre for much of the afternoon.
As afore mentioned, Elias Harris could not be stopped for the Zags. Kevin Pangos scored 13 points, making nine free throws, and big man Sam Downer contributed eight points in the second half.
This was a huge opportunity for Arizona to gain a quality road win and they fell flat on their faces. The team continues to improve, but until they find more consistency on both ends of the court, they will continue to struggle. The Wildcats play next on Tuesday night against Oakland.