Women's hoops seals OT win over Florida with 17-point comeback
1998-99 record: 18-11 overall, 12-6 Pac-10, lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the second half of the first round game of the NCAA Tournament against Florida March 10, the Arizona women's basketball season looked like it was over.
The men's basketball team had been knocked out in the first round by Oklahoma only 40 minutes before the women's game began. In Piscataway, N.J., the women's team was down by 17 points midway through the second half and it looked like it would also be returning to Tucson earlier than expected.
With the team playing out of sync and junior guard Felecity Willis and sophomore guard Reshea Bristol on the bench with four fouls apiece, things looked bleak for the Wildcats. The team had been characterized all season long as being young and inexperienced. While that may have been true, a characteristic the Wildcats thought was more important was their inability to give up, and that's when the comeback began.
In overcoming the 17-point deficit, Arizona did the little things that head coach Joan Bonvicini had been preaching all season long - creating turnovers, getting their hands up on defense and boxing out on rebounds. A turnover here and an easy layup here, a strong defensive stand there, and the Wildcats made it a game again.
In the final seconds of regulation, junior guard Lisa Griffith drove underneath the basket and passed it to Bristol, who made a layup as the buzzer sounded, tying the game at 77-77 and sending it to overtime.
The Wildcats fell behind by five points in overtime, but dug deep once again. Freshman forward LaKeisha Taylor had two of her career-high 12 points on a follow-up to Bristol's miss to take the lead, 85-84. Two free throws by junior Angela Lackey, who also had a career-high with 29 points, iced the game. Arizona's 87-84 comeback victory was complete. Afterwards, it took a moment for Bonvicini to catch her breath.
"The thing we never did was hang our heads down and we never gave up," she said. "I like the win, but I don't like having a heart attack in the process. I'm just very, very thankful we won."