By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat January 11, 1996
The Arizona women basketball team's 75-39 win against Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo Tuesday night may best be described as a chance for the Wildcats to clean their palette. Sandwiched between a 22-point home loss to No. 7 Stanford and a road trip to Arizona St ate tomorrow, the Wildcats (10-1) were hoping to work out the bad taste left by their first defeat of the season.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they still came away with a bitter taste in their mouths.
"We weren't a unit. We weren't thinking out there," senior point guard Brenda Pantoja said. "It was like we were on two different pages. It's a good win, but at the same time we wanted to take two steps forward. Instead we took two steps back."
Despite her nine-assist effort - which upped her career total to 522, tying her with Regina Grennan as Arizona's all-time assist leader - and a 36-point win in front of 993 people at McKale Center, Pantoja said the team hadn't moved forward with the win.
"We played like dookie," Pantoja said.
Still, the game was never in doubt for Arizona. The Wildcats trailed only once, at 3-2, and had a double-digit lead at 17-6 with 9:43 left in the first half. Cal Poly pulled within 10 points a minute later but never got any closer.
The Wildcats played sloppy in the first half and were never able to entirely put the Mustangs away. Arizona turned the ball over 11 times and shot only 38.9 percent from the floor in the first half after repeatedly missing layups. The Wildcats turned the game around in the second half, committing 18 total turnovers and raising their shooting percentage to 48.3 percent.
"I think some of the players were a little tired and some weren't as focused, but I think you have to get those things out of your system," Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "That's why in the first half I was disappointed, but in the second half I think we played a lot better.
"It was much better to get that out now because now it helps us down the road against ASU. Plus I know we'll be a lot more focused."
The Wildcats were paced by senior Andrea Constand's 21 points. Constand was consistent on the outside, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and several long-range jumpers. Sophomore forward Adia Barnes scored only two points in the first half, but finished the ga me with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats' defense remained solid throughout the game. Cal Poly committed 34 total turnovers and shot 31.3 percent. The Mustangs' only offensive threat was senior guard Kellie Hoffman, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. She hit four of eigh t 3-pointers to keep the Mustangs in the game.
The Wildcats finished the winter break with a 4-1 record, raising their overall record to 10-1. Their only loss of the season came at the hands of then-No. 7 Stanford, which defeated Arizona 77-55 Jan. 6. The Wildcats started the season 9-0 after wins at Harvard (83-59) and Providence (97-83), for the best start in the program's history and Arizona's best non-conference record ever.
After the road trip, Arizona returned home and won its first Pacific 10 Conference game of the season against California 102-66 Jan. 4.
Arizona was without freshman guard Monika Crank in its game against Cal Poly. Crank was injured in the game against Stanford when she fell to the floor and hit her head. Crank is listed as questionable for Arizona's game at Arizona State.