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Updated: Saturday, March 13, 2004 3:40 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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Washington 90 (16) Arizona 85

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Washington is making a case for NCAA Tournament consideration. Three wins over Arizona can only help its cause.

Nate Robinson scored 20 points as the Huskies advanced to the Pac-10 Conference tournament championship with a 90-85 victory over the 16th-ranked Wildcats.

The Huskies (19-10) are one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning 14 of their last 16 games. That stretch included a pair of wins over Arizona that helped the Huskies earn the second seed in the Pac-10 tourney.

After rallying past UCLA on Thursday, Washington took a 42-40 halftime lead in this one and got several clutch baskets from Robinson in the second half. He had a jumper with 4 1/2 minutes remaining that made it 78-68 and hit another one with 16 seconds to play that made it 88-83 and finished off the Wildcats.

The final jumper atoned for his fourth turnover of the game. On Washington's previous possession Robinson fell down and Chris Rodgers made an uncontested layup with 48 second to play.

"We stayed together," said Robinson, whose team lost its first five conference games. "That's how we've learned to play this season. We're a team and we battled back and our aggressive defense led to some easy baskets."

Robinson made 8-of-16 shots and was big down the stretch. The 5-8 guard, a former cornerback on Washington's football team, scored 11 points in the final 6:10.

He also had eight points during a 17-7 spurt that gave the Huskies a 76-66 lead with 4:54 remaining. Washington never led by fewer than three points thereafter.

"I can't say why we beat them three times," Huskies guard Will Conroy said. "We've gotten better as the season goes along. Now we can just wait until Sunday to see how we rank. We're looking forward to the next step."

Washington became the first team to defeat Arizona (20-9) three times in a season. The Huskies will face Stanford for the conference's automatic bid, but this win likely clinched their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1999.

"We look forward to playing in the championship game, that is excitement enough," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "These guys have put down personal glory for the good of the team and now we are in the championship game."

Arizona likely will be the Pac-10's third team to make the NCAA Tournament. But it doesn't enter as hot as the Huskies, having dropped five of its last 11 games.

"Obviously they're a better ballclub than we are," Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. "I mean we are 0-3 against them. They played great and they deserved to win. They have proven that they're a better team than we are.

Los Angeles native Hassan Adams led Arizona with 30 points. Channing Frye added 20 and Andre Iguodala 13. But Salim Stoudamire battled foul trouble and finished with just five points.


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