By Th‚oden K. Janes
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The 1994-95 season has served as something of a playground for the Arizona women's basketball team.
There have been see-saws Ä such as the Wildcats' back-and-forth, 63-61 victory over UCLA Thursday that featured nine lead changes.
And there have been swings, particularly upswings Ä at one point earlier in the season the UA recorded five straight wins on its home court.
For the past few weeks, though, Arizona has been on a slide, and have been unable to get off of it.
By losing to No. 24 Southern Cal 71-63 at McKale Center Saturday night, the Wildcats (10-15 overall, 5-8 in the Pacific 10 Conference) have now dropped six of their last seven games and are one loss away from clinching a losing season. In fact, the UA would need to win its remaining five games just to finish at .500.
So, has the team's overall confidence level dropped?
"No," freshman forward Adia Barnes said after the loss to USC. Actually, she wouldn't even elaborate on the slide, only about the game that had just ended.
"We all know that we had a chance to win this game tonight and we kind of beat ourselves in some ways," Barnes said. "Not to say that at the end they didn't hit everything, but there was a point where we should have really been ahead and we didn't make smart decisions. We put ourselves in a losing situation and towards the end we were just playing catch up."
Sixty-eight words that tell the whole story.
To be somewhat redundant, here's what happened.
Arizona was on fire early, and had leads of 10-4 and 20-13. But after USC forward Tina Thompson scored from down in the post with 2:07 left to put the Trojans up 25-24, the UA never led again. At halftime, Southern Cal was up 29-26.
The Wildcats were able to close to within one (35-34) at the 17:38 mark of the second half, but USC went on a 12-0 run immediately afterward that Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said was the one that broke her team's back.
And even though the UA closed to within four (59-55) with 4:33 remaining, the game belonged to the Trojans, as USC's Rashida Jeffrey, a Tucson native, knocked down one of two free throws, and Trojan guard Erica Jackson nailed a three-pointer with 3:40 left. One minute and 55 seconds later, Jackson was fouled by UA guard Brenda Pantoja and promptly hit the front end of a one-and-one to seal USC's victory.
"We played catch-up second half," Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "I thought second half they hit more shots Ä particularly the guard, Erica Jackson Ä and more short jumpers because our guards at the top were not as accurate as they needed to be.
"We outrebounded them (54-48), which is a credit to our kids, but they're a very, very physical team."
Barnes led all Wildcat scorers with 15 points, and added eight rebounds in 25 minutes. Pantoja and DeAngela Minter both pitched in 11 points. Junior forward Andrea Constand grabbed nine rebounds, six of which were on the offensive end.
The Trojans were paced by Thompson (21 points and 16 rebounds) and backcourt mates Jackson and Karleen Shields, who scored 14 points apiece.
"We were only down by three points at halftime, and that was exactly our situation Thursday night, we came out and jumped on them," Barnes said. "But here, we were down and we let them jump on us. They were the stronger team, I think, during the first five minutes of the second half, and for us, that basically determined the game."
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