SEATTLE - The Arizona Wildcats fell back into their slow starting habits again Saturday, and this time they extended the slumber party for nearly the entire game.
Arizona lost 71-60 to Gonzaga at Key Arena today, trailing 14-0 and 22-4 early, then by up to 20 in the second half. The Wildcats pulled within six points several times toward the end of the game but it wasn't enough.
Elias Harris scored the final basket of his game-high 27 points with a minute to go after the Zags broke UA's press, putting Gonzaga up 66-58 and pleasing the mostly pro-Gonzaga crowd of 15,127 fans.
Arizona wound up shooting 41.1 percent from the floor after a miserable shooting start but was outrebounded 29-19 for the game while Gonzaga took 23 more free throws than the Wildcats did.
The loss dropped Arizona to 7-4 while Gonzaga improved to 7-2. The Wildcats will host two games next week before their Christmas break, playing Oakland on Tuesday and Bryant on Thursday.
The second half started out nearly as ominously as the beginning of the game did for UA, with coach Sean Miller calling a timeout two minutes into the second half after Sacre dunks on Wildcats to make it 43-23, Gonzaga.
But the Wildcats slowly pulled back to within 10 points late in the game thanks to three-point shooting.
Three pointers from Kyle Fogg and Jesse Perry pulled UA to 55-43 midway through the second half and then Perry drove the baseline to pull UA within 10 points, 55-45, for the first time since the first five minutes of the game.
Then, a three-pointer from Jordin Mayes pulled UA within 60-50 with 3:44 left.
Mayes cut the Gonzaga lead to just eight points with a layup inside with 3:32 to go and the Wildcats cut it to as few as six points down the stretch but Arizona was able to gain no more ground.
With 2:44 left, Solomon Hill hit two free throws to cut Gonzaga's lead to just six points, 60-54, but Gonzaga found Robert Sacre inside for a dunk that put the Bulldogs back up by eight.
A jumper from Nick Johnson made it 62-56 entering the final two minutes before Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos hit two free throws. At a timeout with 1:21 to go, it was Bulldogs 64-56.
In the first half, Arizona stumbled to its worst halftime deficit of the season, trailing Gonzaga 39-21.
The Wildcats made just 10 of 32 shots from the field, were outrebounded 13-7 and took only one free throw for the half, a miss by Josiah Turner.
Arizona was also hurt by an uncharacteristically poor half from starting forward Solomon Hill, who was 1 for 7 from the field, with no rebounds and one turnover.
Hill also struggled opposite Harris, who led all scorers in the half with 17 points.
The Wildcats' biggest halftime deficit before was 38-29 to Ball State on Nov. 13 at McKale Center, although they came back and won that game 73-63.
Arizona started exactly with the same 22-4 deficit it struggled to against San Diego State, and the Wildcats never recovered from that one, losing 61-57 to snap their 22-game homecourt winning streak.
By the last media timeout of half, with just under four minutes left, Gonzaga led 30-15. Arizona was shooting 7 of 24 from the field and had been outrebounded 13-7 at that point.
Miller tried calling a 30-second timeout with less than two minutes played and the Zags already up 5-0 but it didn't help calling a 30-second timeout with less than two minutes played and Gonzaga Miller called another 30-second time out after Gary Bell Jr. scores on a breakaway layup to put Gonzaga up 26-10.
Josiah Turner scored the first UA basket with 14:26 left in the first half but it was ugly for the Wildcats before them.
At the first media timeout, to the delight of the mostly Zag-rooting fanbase, the Key Arena announcer said: "The scoreboard is correct! It's 14-nothing, Gonzaga!"
UA was wearing red road jerseys for the first time this season.