Griffith leads UA to Classic title

By Kevin Clerici
Arizona Daily Wildcat
December 9, 1996

Gregory Harris
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona freshman guard Felicity Willis (23) and junior forward Mikko Giordano (34) strip the ball from a Harvard player in the championship game of the Copper Bowl Classic yesterday at McKale Center. The Wildcats beat the Crimson 82-45 to take win the Classic.


Not even a car crash could slow Lisa Griffith.

The Arizona freshman point guard scored 16 points as the Wildcats easily defeated Harvard 82-45 for the Wildcats' fourth Copper Bowl Classic title in front of 845 at the McKale Center last night.

Sitting in the passenger seat, Griffith's neck swung forward when the car she was riding in collided with another on Saturday, in what Griffith described as an "avoiding kind of crash." She has been bothered by a stiff neck ever since.

"She was pretty shaken by the accident, it's a good thing that she had a seat belt," UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said.

However, the pain was put into the backseat when Griffith, the Copper Bowl Classic most valuable player, took the court.

"I am happy about the award, but my teammates had something to do with it," Griffith said. "Only when I stopped playing could I feel the pain."

She had 24 points and nine assists in Friday night's 90-55 win over San Jose State.

"Knowing that we played as a team is what I care about most," Griffith said.

Against Harvard, four players scored in double figures and Arizona's ball-pressure defense put the game out of reach in the first 15 minutes. The Wildcats scored their first eight points on layups created from turnovers and dominated the transition game.

"That was the best defensive game that we have played this year," Bonvicini said.

Arizona forced Harvard into 27 turnovers, while the Crimson shot only 28 percent from the floor.

"I told Joan (Bonvicini) that they are a phenomenal defensive team," Harvard head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. "I told her that they are far better than they were last year when we played."

Arizona won that game 83-59 on Dec. 28 in Cambridge, Mass.

UA center Marte Alexander, taking the place of Jacque Barrington and starting for the first time this season, set a Classic record with five blocks to go along with her 26 points and 12 rebounds in Arizona's two games.

"Marte is quick for her size (6-foot-4). It's not just the blocked shots, but getting steals as well," Bonvicini said.

"I just want to do my job, and that is to block shots, rebound and play well in the middle," Alexander said.

Alexander and Adia Barnes were also named to the All-Tournament team. Barnes recorded her fifth and sixth double-doubles of the year over the weekend. Sophomore guard Monika Crank led the team with seven assists.

With the Wildcats up 46-19 at halftime, the UA bench saw a lot of playing time in the second half. It responded with 22 points.

"Defensively we have a lot of depth, we are a lot quicker than a year ago," Bonvicini said. "We know with this team that if we work hard, we can be in every game."

The Wildcats were 16 for 33 from three-point range during the Classic and missed only nine free throws in 37 attempts (76 percent). Arizona led the Pacific 10 Conference going into the weekend at 65.2 percent.

"This team deserves the recognition," Bonvicini said, "especially for the amount of effort that they have put in."