UA blows 17-point lead, loses

By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 22, 1996

For 37 minutes on Saturday afternoon the Arizona women's basketball team continued to live out its fairy tale season, waltzing over the UCLA Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.

Then, as suddenly as the clock striking 12, the Wildcat's magic unraveled before their eyes and a 17-point lead evaporated before they could say "glass slipper."

Arizona's 89-85 overtime loss to UCLA (9-6 overall, 4-2 in Pacific 10) can only be described as a lesson in self-destruction. With just over three minutes to go in the game, the Wildcats held a comfortable 70-53 lead. It was at that point that the Bruins inserted a full-court press that not only shook the Wildcats, but demolished them.

Arizona (12-2 overall, 3-2 in the Pacific 10) turned the ball over repeatedly, managing only three points in the three-minute span.

UCLA kept chopping into the lead - down by 10 with two minutes left, down by six with 1:40 left, down by two with one minute to go. The Bruins tied the game with 28 seconds remaining and had a chance to go on top but Arizona senior point guard Brenda Pant oja stole the ball and was fouled. She converted both free throws to give the Wildcats a 75-73 lead with eight seconds remaining. The Bruins took the ball downcourt and sent the game into overtime on guard Tawana Grimes' runner from the right wing.

The Wildcats' never saw the lead again as UCLA controlled overtime. The Bruins jumped on top of foul-plagued Arizona early and took the ball inside for easy baskets and the four-point win.

Arizona had led 32-31 at halftime and built the big second-half lead with a combination of hot shooting and denial defense. Arizona sophomore Adia Barnes pounded away inside, finishing with a game-high 32 points while seniors Pantoja and Andrea Constand r ained 3-pointers. Constand finished with 21 points and Pantoja added 15 points and nine assists.

The Bruins forced 35 Arizona turnovers, many of those coming at the end of the first half.

Notes: Arizona defeated Southern Cal 87-72 Thursday night, its first victory over the Trojans since 1990. The Wildcats were led by junior Jacque Clark's 18 points. Senior Andrea Constand also added 18.