MINNEAPOLIS (AP) As the buzzer sounded, Richard Jefferson threw his hands in the air and sent a salute to all those Arizona fans who have watched this bittersweet season unfold.
On the strength of an extremely impressive performance, Arizona moves on to the title game. And what an emotional ride it has been for the Wildcats. Think about it: Lute Olson who married his beautiful bride, his high school sweetheart, the late Bobbi Olson, here in Minneapolis has an opportunity to win the national championship in this very city.
“One more win,” he mouthed to the crowd, as he thrust his index fingers in the air. “One more win.”
A five-minute barrage of can”t-miss shooting and smothering defense pushed the Wildcats to an 80-61 victory over defending champion Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament”s semifinals Saturday.
With a victory Monday over Duke, a 95-84 winner over Maryland in the second semifinal, Arizona will close this season in true storybook fashion. And what an ending that would be, for a team still mourning the loss of coach Lute Olson”s wife, Bobbi, who died of cancer Jan. 1.
“It”s been real tough, what the coach has gone through and what the team has gone through,” Jefferson said. “It keeps coming up continuously. That”s the hardest part for us as a team. We”ve been talking about it a long time. The season is dedicated to Mrs. Olson.”