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Rare 3-point barrage lifts UA over visiting Bruins at home

By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
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What a difference a 3-pointer makes.

For the Wildcat women's basketball team, it was possibly the difference between victory and defeat on Saturday against a young Bruin squad.

The Wildcats are not known as a 3-point shooting team. Up until the UCLA and USC games, the UA was last place in the Pacific 10 Conference in 3-point field goals made. It doesn't attempt very many, either.

The offense runs through sophomore center Shawntinice Polk and junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler for the most part, so sharp-shooting beyond the arc has not been necessary for the Wildcats to win games. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is the 3-point specialist for the Wildcats, but if she is cold, their perimeter game is almost non-existent.

Grzyb was cold in the first half against UCLA, going 0-of-4 from the floor and getting her only two points from free throws. Until sophomore forward CoCoa Sanford put in a layup with 9:06 left in the first half, only Wheeler and Polk had scored for the Wildcats, combining for 17 points. By that point, six different players for UCLA had combined for 22 points.

As a result, the Bruins succeeded in doing what no other squad could do against the Wildcats in McKale Center this season: End the first half with the lead. They did nothing spectacular to attain the 27-23 halftime lead, simply converting four 3-pointers while the Wildcats could muster only one. Arizona attempted only four during the entire half, while UCLA threw up 11.

The Bruins were without their best shooter for most of the first half, talented sophomore point guard Nikki Blue, who was in foul trouble early. She was an All-Pac-10 performer as a freshman and has led her team in scoring in both of her years at UCLA.

"The first half, we played very tight offensively and defensively. We let them control the tempo, and we were shooting way too quick," said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini.

The Wildcats needed someone else to help Polk and Wheeler carry the offensive load in the second half, and someone to heat up on the perimeter.

Cue Grzyb and reserve sophomore guard Katrina Lindner.

It took Grzyb a little over six minutes into the second half to score her first bucket of the game, but her 3-pointer came at the perfect time, tying the game at 39. She found her stroke and hit two more 3s, lifting the Wildcats from a tie to a 64-48 lead in 10 minutes.

Lindner, who sees limited playing time, came in and hit a crucial 3 just after Grzyb's first to put the Wildcats ahead 44-40, and that was the beginning of the end for the Bruins.

"When it's your chance to play, you've got to step it up," Lindner said.

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