ATHENS, Ga. ?- The No. 23/24 Arizona women’s basketball team committed 23 fouls to the Lady Bulldogs’ 16 in a 70-62 loss at No. 11/14 Georgia in Stegeman Coliseum this afternoon. With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 6-2 on the season.
Arizona shot 39 percent both from the field and from three-point range, but just 54 percent from the free throw line on the game. Georgia connected on 46 percent from the field and 87 percent from the charity stripe, though it failed to make a three-pointer. The Lady Bulldogs also out-rebounded the Wildcats 38 to 33.
“I’m not happy with our performance,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “Offensively, we weren’t executing in the first half. We fouled too much and put Georgia on the line. The only good part is that we played hard and came back late in the second half.”
Senior Dee-Dee Wheeler led the Wildcats with 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Junior Natalie Jones added 10 points and three assists. Junior center Shawntinice Polk finished with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks in just 22 minutes of play.
Arizona opened the game looking sharp, taking two five-point leads early in the first half. Georgia then used a 13-0 run to take a 23-15 lead with 7:15 left in the half. When Ch?© Oh finally scored a tip-in at the 6:05 mark, it was the Wildcats’ first basket in 8:14. Arizona had another scoring drought late in the half, going 3:41 without a basket. However, the Wildcats went into the locker room down by just five points, 27-22.
Arizona shot 30 percent from the field, 20 percent from beyond the arc and 63 percent from the free throw line on the half. Meanwhile, Georgia connected on 39 percent of its shots from the field and 83 percent from the charity stripe. Both teams pulled down 20 boards on the half. Polk led the Wildcats with nine points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
After making a defensive stop and a Jessica Arnold three to start the second half, Arizona cut the Georgia lead to two, but that would be as close as it would get. The Lady Bulldogs then scored 10 straight to take a 37-25 lead. To make matters worse, Polk, who had just one foul in the first half, picked up three fouls by the 16:04 mark. The All-America candidate fouled out with 11:41 left in the game.
Georgia built its lead to as many as 18 points (49-31), but the Wildcats kept fighting. Arizona narrowed the lead to 10 on four occasions, then made it a seven-point game when Wheeler completed a three-point play with 55 seconds left. After a Wheeler long ball, it was a six-point game (68-62), but that was as close as the Wildcats would get. Arizona shot 39 percent from the field, but managed just 13 boards on the half.
Arizona plays its final home game of 2004 at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 16, when its hosts UC Santa Barbara.