Wildcats open season against Cowgirls

By Craig Sanders

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona women's basketball team will be putting on their spurs, saddling up their horses and bringing out their lassos as they try to wrangle up the Wyoming Cowgirls at tonight's Copper Bowl Classic at McKale Center.

"We are excited to get going and open the regular season this weekend," Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "It will be important to start strong, and we have a good field coming in."

The tournament field for the fifth-annual Copper Bowl Classic will include Arizona (0-0), Wyoming (0-2), San Francisco (0-1) and Wake Forest (1-1). The Dons and Demon Deacons will tip off at 6 and the Wildcats and Cowgirls will play at 8. It is the first regular season game for UA, who had convincing wins over the Mexico National Team and the Portland Saints in the preseason.

"We have done well in our exhibition games but it will be nice to get a real game behind us," Bonvicini said. "Each time we have played we have improved."

Wyoming comes in with a posse of potential scorers. They are led by junior forward Jesseen Cross, who has averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds in the team's two losses this season. Sophomore point guard Courtney Stapp adds 10 points-per-game and forwards Chrissy Ingalls and Erin Olsen both chip in 9.5.

The Wildcats will counter with last season's Pacific 10 Conference freshman of the year Adia Barnes at power forward and senior point guard Brenda Pantoja. Barnes averaged 15 points and 7.8 rebounds- per-game last season while Pantoja contributed 10.4 points-per-game. Senior forward Andrea Constand, junior center Jacque Clark and sophomore guard DeAngela Minter round out the Arizona lineup.

The Wildcats have a 4-3 overall series lead and defeated the Cowgirls 73-72 in their last meeting in 1979.

"We are excited to play our first game," Pantoja said. "I think we have a good team and that we will continue to get better. Right now we are taking it one game at a time."

Arizona is 6-2 overall in the Copper Bowl Classic and won it in 1992 and 1993. Last season the Wildcats lost to Oklahoma State 64-40 in the championship game.

The championship game of the tournament will be played Sunday at 3 p.m. at McKale Center. The consolation game will be played at 1 p.m.

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