TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini admits she was a little worried when her Wildcats were down by 15 points in first-round Women's National Invitational Tournament contest with Pepperdine.
Not to worry - Arizona rallied while Pepperdine went cold.
Reshea Bristol had 23 points and Veranda James added 20 more as Arizona defeated Pepperdine 85-65 Thursday night.
That sends Arizona (20-11, 9-9 Pac-10) against New Mexico on Saturday in the second round. New Mexico defeated Houston 72-49 Thursday night in Albuquerque. Pepperdine (20-12, 10-4 WCC) is eliminated.
Behind two 3-pointers from Damaris Hinojosa and another from Rasheeda Clark, Pepperdine led 12-5 lead in the first three minutes.
Arizona closed the gap to 12-11 with 14 minutes left in the half, but the Waves countered with a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to lead 28-13 at the 9-minute mark.
Pepperdine hit seven 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes, but Arizona took over with a 25-3 run over an eight-minute span.
"We made a great comeback in the end of the first half," Bonvicini said. "We showed our athletic ability, and we dominated the boards (45-31)."
The Wildcats led 31-30 lead with three minutes left in the half on a pair of Bristol free throws and were up 45-35 at the break.
A 9-2 Arizona 9-2 spurt put the Wildcats ahead 69-51 at the 6-minute mark. The Waves, who shot 43 percent from the floor in the first half, slumped to 32 percent in the final 20 minutes and never provided another threat.
"I thought what hurt us is that Arizona hit the boards really well, especially in the second half," Pepperdine coach Mark Trakh said. "Their front line did a good job all the way around, and their post players did a good job of getting the ball down low."
Elizabeth Pickney had 16 points for Arizona. Bristol's five steals gave her 257 for an Arizona career record. James had 11 rebounds.
Hinojosa and Rasheeda Clark led Pepperdine with 15 points each.
Looking ahead, Bonvicini said she had coached against New Mexico before but that this would be the first time in The Pit, as the Lobos' home court is known. "They bring 10,000-plus fans, so it's going to be a very interesting game," she added.