No. 12 Beavers another tough test for Wildcats

By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 24, 1996

The Arizona women's basketball team, after being torpedoed by the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, will attempt to resurface tonight against the Oregon State Beavers at McKale Center.

The Wildcats (12-2 overall, 3-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference) will play the role of underdog against the 12th-ranked Beavers (14-3, 3-2). The game was changed from tomorrow night to tonight, and will start at 7 p.m.

For Arizona, it is yet another chance at respect the Wildcats have yet to receive a top 25 vote despite their record. For Oregon State, it is a chance to rebound from its own 15-point loss to fifth-ranked Stanford last week.

"I think both Oregon State and us are in a similar situation," Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "They are coming off of a loss with a lot to prove and they have two premier front-court players. Yet they are also a balanced team and a very, very good team overall."

The Wildcats will be trying to show that the blowup at UCLA was a one-time occurrence. The loss came in dramatic fashion as Arizona blew a 17-point lead in the final three minutes of the game before losing 89-85 in overtime. A stifling Bruin full-court press was the spark that ignited the swing.

"We are obviously disappointed with the loss to UCLA, but the mark of a good team is how you come out after a loss," Bonvicini said. "Our team is angry they lost and I think we will respond really well."

Bonvicini said the collapse was a result of several factors, including her own team's comfort level. She said that by the end of the game the players were playing not to lose more than to win. Yet Bonvicini also said they must use the loss as a learning experience lest it be wasted.

"If we learn from this we will be a better team," Bonvicini said. "The one good thing is that it was early in the conference season and we can use it as a springboard the rest of the way. It was a bad loss, but it doesn't take anything away from our great start. The one thing I can say about this team is that it's resilient."

The Wildcats will need to be resilient against a Beavers team that is loaded with experience and talent. OSU is led by last season's Pac-10 player of the year, senior forward Tanja Kostic, who is averaging 25.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. The Beavers' other forward, Anette Mollerstrom, is scoring 13.4 points and grabbing 5.1 rebounds per game.

The Wildcats will fight back with sophomore forward Adia Barnes, who scored 32 points in the loss to UCLA. She is averaging a team-high 17.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Senior point guard Brenda Pantoja and senior forward Andrea Constand are both putting up big numbers as well. Pantoja is averaging 14.3 points per game and 9.7 assists. Constand is averaging 15.0 points per game and 5.4 rebounds as well as leading the Pac-10 in 3-point percentage. This is a remarkable improvement considering she averaged just over three points per game last season.

Constand's 3-point presence and the inside development of junior center Jacque Clark are big reasons for Arizona's success this season.

"Jacque is playing well right now and has really gained a good deal of confidence," Bonvicini said. "She has shown marked improvement and I think that comes from maturity and experience."