TUCSON, Ariz. ?- In front of 4,710 fans, the fourth largest crowd ever for an Arizona women’s basketball game at McKale, the Wildcats defeated instate rival Arizona State 56-49 this evening. With the win, Arizona improves to 15-5 overall and 7-3 in Pac-10 play. The Sun Devils fall to 14-6 overall and 6-4 in the Pac-10.
Arizona, which overcame a four-point halftime deficit, shot 38 percent from the field, 25 percent from beyond the arc and 74 percent from the field on the game. Meanwhile, Arizona State connected on 30 percent from the field, 28 percent from downtown and 86 percent from the charity stripe. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Sun Devils 37 to 34 and forced 24 ASU turnovers.
“I’m really proud of the team,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “ASU is very good and we are both really physical teams. In the first half, we had a lot of turnovers. We rushed the offense too much. We knew we had to make adjustments on the defense and rebounding and when we started rebounding, that’s when the game changed around for us.”
“The fans were like an extra player on the court,” she added. “They were loud and proud of our team and I can’t ask for more than that. I really appreciate the support. I want to build on this because the women deserve to be supported. We just want to represent the U of A and Tucson well.”
Freshman Jessica Arnold led all players with 14 points, while senior Dee-Dee Wheeler and junior Shawntinice Polk added 11 apiece. Wheeler also added five assists and four steals, while Polk pulled down six rebounds and blocked four shots. Senior Danielle Adefeso was just shy of a double-double as she finished with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The game started out close, with four lead changes before Arizona State used a 6-0 run to take a 12-7 lead. The Sun Devils maintained a five-point lead for more than three minutes before the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run to go up 23-18. However, Arizona State scored nine straight points to close out the half and went into the locker room up by four points, 27-23.
Arizona shot just 31 percent from the field, 25 percent from three-point range and 67 percent from the free throw line on the half, while Arizona State connected on 46, 33 and 88 percent, respectively. The Sun Devils out-rebounded the Wildcats 19 to 12, but committed 17 turnovers to Arizona’s 13. Arnold led the Wildcats with nine points.
After the Sun Devils scored the first basket of the second half at the 18:35 mark, Arizona rattled off 17 straight points to take a 40-29 lead. During that time, the Wildcats held Arizona State scoreless for 9:34, at which point the Sun Devils made a free throw. Arizona State finally hit a trey at the 6:31 mark, having gone more than 12 minutes without a field goal. That made it an eight-point game, but the Sun Devils cut it to three (52-49) on another long ball with 57 seconds left. However, Arizona made all four of its free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Wildcats shot 44 percent from the field on the half and held the Sun Devils to just 6-of-31 (19 percent). Arizona also out-rebounded Arizona State 25 to 15.
Arizona hosts No. 20/22 Maryland for a 4 p.m. game this Saturday, Jan. 29. The game will be broadcast live to a national audience on FSN. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano will serve as guest coach for the Wildcats.