Jan. 23, 2004
EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Oregon women's basketball team could not hold off Arizona as the Wildcats won 70-66 before 3,633 fans Thursday at McArthur Court.
Arizona won its third straight and improved to 15-4 and 7-1 in the conference. The upset-minded Ducks, meanwhile, dropped to 10-8 and 2-6.
"We did some things really well, but on a couple possessions we didn't get it to the shooter," Oregon coach Bev Smith said. "What we have to do is take the next step. We are a young team. We really need that killer instinct."
Oregon fought tooth-and-nail, but couldn't overcome Dee-Dee Wheeler's hot hand. Wheeler, Arizona's junior guard, scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.
The Ducks were down 44-31 after a Danielle Adefeso basket with 18:15 left in the game. Oregon proceeded to score 14 consecutive points en route to an 18-2 run as it led for the first time, 49-46, at the 12:07 mark after Corrie Mizusawa's 3-pointer from the corner.
Oregon led by as many as six at 65-59 with 4:38 remaining before Arizona mounted its clinching comeback. The Wildcats regained the lead for good as Shawntinice Polk grabbed a Natalie Jones missed lay-in and made a putback bucket with 44.7 seconds left to go up 66-65. The Ducks got to the foul line but the ball just wouldn't fit. In the final 4:38, Oregon was 2-of-6 on free throws, including five straight misses.
Jones' two free throws with six seconds left - giving Arizona a four-point lead - sealed the Ducks' fate.
"We crated some opportunities for ourselves," Smith said. "We just needed to put the ball in the basket."
Although Oregon shot just 7-of-17 from the free-throw line, the Ducks' offense was flowing as they shot 46 percent from the field, including 7-of-21 from 3-point range. Chelsea Wagner, who has been hobbled with a torn lateral meniscus in her left knee, scored a season-high 17 points and tied a career-high with five 3-pointers in 11 attempts.
"Chelsea was a real warrior," Smith said. "She came to play and gave us the extra focus we needed."