TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- Channing Frye responded and Arizona did the same in the nick of time.
Frye had a huge second half and scored the go-ahead basket with 55 seconds left as the fifth-ranked Wildcats used a late rally for an 84-78 victory over St. Mary's.
St. Mary's (6-4) made its first appearance at McKale Center since a 101-41 setback on December 2, 2000 - the worst loss in school history. The Gaels showed how far their program has come with a tremendous effort and held a 76-69 lead after Daniel Kickert's bank shot with 3:06 to go.
Arizona (5-1) held St. Mary's to just one basket the rest of the way and scored the final 11 points. Frye, who had 18 of his career-high 26 points after halftime, faked a screen-and-roll before slipping to the basket and laying in Andre Iguodala's feed for a 79-78 lead.
"We were just in our regular motion and then we went to an on-ball screen," Frye said. "At first, the dude didn't go for it and then the second time, I got open and (Iguodala) got me the ball."
Kickert's short bank shot rolled out with 36 seconds left, and Arizona's Salim Stoudamire made a pair from the line. The Gaels' E.J. Rowland had a runner blocked by Frye with 21 seconds remaining, and Hassan Adams made 1-of-2 from the line five seconds later.
The Wildcats outscored the Gaels, 19-4, over the final 4:50.
Frye was chewed out by Arizona coach Lute Olson at halftime after making 3-of-8 shots. "I just had to step up," Frye said. "Coach said I was playing soft and said that I had to get into it. We just weren't playing our game tonight and St. Mary's came out and played awesome."
Adams netted 23 points and Stoudamire added 16 for Arizona, which had its defense picked apart early and often by St. Mary's. The Gaels were able to mismatch the 6-10 Kickert, who scored 19 points, with the 6-4 Adams throughout the second half.
After Rowland's leaner made it 78-73 with 2:02 to go, Stoudamire made two free throws before he turned in one of the game's biggest plays. He stole a bad inbounds and raced in for an uncontested layup that cut the deficit to one point with 1:38 to go and whipped the McKale Center crowd into a frenzy.
"It's a little bit of a disappointment leaving with a loss," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said. "I thought we stayed aggressive throughout the game, but we turned the ball over down the stretch and that's what lost the game."
Olson was concerned about his defense, which repeatedly let down due to a combination of good ball movement by St. Mary's and poor rotation by Arizona.
"We started double-teaming the high post and that worked, but we probably should have done that sooner," Olson said. "When you do that, the other guys really have to bust it to cover the open man. We should be picking off some of those passes."