No. 1 Wildcats halt Cal's 17-game home streak

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- In the opening minute, Salim Stoudamire
made a good defensive play against Joe Shipp, the Pac-10's leading
scorer. Moments later, Stoudamire hit a 3-pointer for the game's
first points.

In essence, that was top-ranked Arizona's game plan on Thursday
night: big plays on both ends by Stoudamire and Luke Walton. It was
simple -- and it was more than enough to hold off California (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP).

Stoudamire hit six 3-pointers and scored 20 points as Arizona
took control of the conference race with its seventh straight
victory, 88-75 over the Golden Bears.

Walton also scored 20 points, hitting all three of his 3-point
attempts as the Wildcats (22-2, 14-1) snapped Cal's 17-game home
winning streak. The fans who razzed the Wildcats from the moment
they entered Haas Pavilion were silent and disappointed as Arizona
maintained a healthy lead in the final seconds.

"It was nice to make this building quiet," Walton said.

Arizona has won nine straight over the Golden Bears (19-6,
12-4), who lost at home for the first time since the Wildcats'
visit last season.

With exceptional outside shooting by Stoudamire and Walton, the
Wildcats eliminated Cal from contention for the Pac-10 crown.
Arizona can clinch its 10th conference title of coach Lute Olson's
tenure with a win at Stanford on Saturday.

"This is the fourth straight game where I felt we played as
well as we've played all year," Olson said. "Toward the end of
each half, the leadership of our seniors is vital. They're not
shook up. They're going to make big plays."

After beating Arizona State last weekend with a big game from
their frontcourt, the Wildcats were sparked by their perimeter game
against the Bears. In addition to Stoudamire's exceptional outside
shooting, Jason Gardner had 15 points and seven rebounds.

Channing Frye added 15 points for Arizona.

Arizona made nine of its first 11 shots, including four
3-pointers by Stoudamire. Cal cut the lead to three points midway
through the second half, but Stoudamire scored five straight points
during a 13-4 run that put it away.

"We've been a team, all year, of runs," Olson said. "It seems
like we're a good momentum team. When Cal made a couple of runs at
us, we answered."

Stoudamire's six 3-pointers matched his career best, set earlier
this year against Kansas.

Walton, who has struggled for much of his senior season, went
7-for-9 from the field -- an efficiency matched by Stoudamire, who
also went 7-for-9.

"I don't remember those guys missing a shot, although I know
they had to miss one or two," Cal coach Ben Braun said. "They
withstood all of our runs, and their outside shooting was a big

Walton also played tight defense on Cal's Amit Tamir, holding
one of the Pac-10's most dangerous outside shooters to 16 points on
5-of-13 shooting.

"It felt like a good game," Walton said. "Luckily, the first
couple of shots went down."

Shipp had 17 points and seven rebounds for Cal while playing
with the flu and a noticeable limp from an undisclosed injury.
Brian Wethers scored 18 points, but the rest of the Bears' roster
beyond its top three scorers managed just 24 points.

"If you lose focus just that much," Wethers said, holding his
fingers an inch apart, "a team like that will hurt you. We need to
give a consistent effort, or we won't have a chance."

Cal was the only Pac-10 team without a home loss this season.

The Golden Bears have ended Stanford's dominance against them
with two straight victories over their Bay area rival, but the
Pac-10's other perennial power still has their number. Arizona has
won 17 of its last 19 meetings with Cal.

"I think the gap is narrowing," Braun said. "I told the team
after the game, 'We're getting there."'

In the student section of Cal's deafening home crowd, there was
a sign proclaiming that a Cal victory would be "like stealing
candy from a vending machine" -- a reference to the Wildcats'
much-publicized incident in Lawrence, Kan.

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