By Charles Renning
KEVIN KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior guard Aimee Grzyb (right) attempts a shot against a Georgia defender Saturday. Grzyb and the Wildcats blew out the No. 8 Bulldogs 70-49.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday December 2, 2002
Season-ending loss to ASU ties Wildcats for last place in Pac-10
Maybe it was the record crowd, or maybe the women's basketball team is on the right track, but whatever it was Saturday night, head coach Joan Bonvicini hopes it lasts all season.
In front of 5,069, the second-largest home crowd to ever watch a UA women's basketball game in McKale Center, the Wildcats (2-1) dominated No. 8 Georgia 70-49.
"We knew that Georgia would make big plays," Bonvicini said. "Luckily, we had the crowd. The crowd was really our sixth player tonight."
The Wildcats' defense made the biggest difference in the upset win. Arizona held Georgia to only 49 points, the lowest score that a Wildcat team had held an opponent to since early in the 2000-2001 season.
The Lady Bulldogs shot just 29 percent from the field in the first half and 35 percent for the game.
Arizona was able to keep both of Georgia's low post players in check most of the game. Both 6-foot-6 sophomore Kara Braxton and junior center Christi Thomas came into the game averaging 16 points a contest, and both left Tucson with numbers well below their averages.
Braxton was held to 5-of-13 shooting and was in foul trouble for most of the game.
"We know our team can be great if we play defense," senior forward Krista Warren said.
Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler said the team had been working the entire week on playing tough defense, and it paid off.
The Wildcats used multiple defensive sets to confuse the young Lady Bulldog backcourt. Georgia started two freshmen guards, and the inexperience showed as the team committed 24 turnovers, many of which the Wildcats turned into fast break points.
"We made it tough for them to get the ball inside," Bonvicini said. "We did a really nice job (on Georgia's guards)."
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 25-12 lead over the Lady Bulldogs, following a fast break layup by Wheeler midway through the first half. Arizona never let up from there, and dusted the nation's eighth-ranked team.
Arizona led by as many as 26 points. Four Wildcat players finished with double-digit scoring numbers, led by senior guard Julie Brase, who led all scorers with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The Wildcats found success in playing the high-low game on offense. The team would get the ball in low to either freshman center Shawntinice Polk or Warren, and following a double team by the Georgia defense, they would pass the ball out to a perimeter shooter. Arizona shot well from the field, 48 percent for the game. Another big reason for the Wildcats success was the team rebounding. Arizona out-rebounded the Lady Bulldogs 42-32. Polk led all players with 17 total rebounds, including 6 on the offensive end.
"We know we can hang with anyone now," Polk said. "We know how good we are, and if we keep playing hard (we'll be successful)."
The women's basketball team will find out tomorrow if it will crack the Top 25 for the first time since Feb, 21, 2001 · The Wildcats held a promotion called "Pack the House" to try to get fans to come to the game Saturday. UA expected 10,000 fans, but fell short with 5,069.