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Updated: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 1:59 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(14) Arizona 79, Eastern Wash 45

TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- Channing Frye scored 16 points and Hassan Adams added 13 as No. 14 Arizona successfully started the defense of its Fiesta Bowl Classic title with a 79-45 victory over Eastern Washington.

"Channing did a nice job," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "He had a number of blocks and he challenged a lot of people. He's doing a better job of getting down and getting a seal on his opponent."

"I have to give Arizona credit," Eastern Washington coach Mike Burns said. "They came out flying and were able to get into the passing lanes. We were expecting it, but we just couldn't do anything about it."

Frye, who made 7-of-10 shots, scored eight points to help the Wildcats (9-2) jump out to a 31-17 lead with 6:12 remaining in the opening half. He collected 12 points in the first 20 minutes as Arizona owned a 39-23 advantage at the break.

In the second half, Adams scored seven straight points for the Wildcats to extend their lead to 56-34 with 10:58 remaining.

"I was concerned early with Hassan on the perimeter," Olson said of Adams, who had five assists and four steals. "Last year, he had to play on the inside a lot. But he's getting better every game handling the ball."

Salim Stoudamire scored nine points and Chris Rodgers and Jesus Verdejo added eight apiece for the Wildcats, who improved to 38-1 all-time in the 20-year history of the event.

Paul Butorac scored 11 points and Kenny Smith chipped in 10 for the Eagles (2-9), who shot 33 percent (17-of-52) from the field.

Leading scorer Marc Axton was harassed by the Wildcats' defense all night, mustering seven points on 3-of-12 shooting. He entered the game with a 19.4 average for Eastern Washington, which wilted under Arizona's pressure.

"The nine assists and 24 turnovers show our inexperience at the guard spot," Burns said. "I thought they got taken back a little. They felt pressured and played tentatively. You can't do that with that kind of pressure."

Arizona will face Richmond - which edged Butler, 69-68 - in the final Thursday.

"Richmond is a good, solid ballclub," Olson said. "They're athletic and they have good size. They've played against good teams this year, and last year as well. This will be a good test for us. There's no better way to get ready for what's ahead of us in the (Pac-10)."


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