February 17, 2012 | 9:22am
Arizona could have folded last night up in Pullman, Washington, traditionally a difficult road game for any team in the Pac-12.
Jesse Perry, one of the Wildcats' key players, was saddled with his fourth foul early in the second half and had to sit for a long stretch.
Washington State's burly forward Brock Motum seemed unstoppable outside and inside, and it surely looked as if the Cougars would pull away late in the game.
But this Arizona team is resilient, even if it lacks a superstar like the departed Derrick Williams to take his teammates to the Promised Land of a deep run in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats ended up winning 76-72, an important win in that it kept the Tucson team within one game of the Pac-12 lead heading down the homestretch. Arizona plays the Washington Huskies (tied for first with Cal) in Seattle on Saturday afternoon in what should be a tight one.
We enjoyed seeing senior Brendon Lavender hitting five three-point bombs for the Cats last night, having watched him play several times for Mesa Mountain View High and its top-drawer coach Gary Ernst. Lavender is a true team player, and he's getting a great opportunity to play this season.
Really good shooter, and fearless.
Basketball can be a cruel game:
The aforementioned Brock Motum scored 28 points, and his team wouldn't have been close without his superior effort. But the big Aussie missed five free throws in a row down the stretch (he finished just 10 of 18 from the line), and that spelled the difference.
Still, he was the best player on the court for much of the contest.
Over in Seattle, Washington beat the ASU Sun Devils 77-69.
The Devils got way behind early, and fought their way back (kind of) into the game, but just didn't have the horses. Good effort, though.